“The planted man getting watered is perhaps the greatest shot in Winnipeg filmmaking history!” boasts the back of the Of Games and Escapes DVD case.
This quote comes from world-renowned Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin, who sent a personal email to the director after he saw the trailer for the film.
Such high compliments from the award-winning director set the bar quite high for this debut feature, and audiences will not be disappointed with this story of struggle.
Finished in 2011, Bevan Klassen’s Of Games and Escapes tells the story of Patrick, a man trapped in a dead-end sales job, peddling sub-par board games for kids.
Patrick, played by Lyle Morris, wants to change the world. Environmentally conscious, he drives a scooter to work, and at night he designs board games with meaning.
Patrick appears to have a happy life outside of work, spending time with his girlfriend Lisa (played by Kristen Harris) and her daughter, but he slowly spirals into a depression when he is unable to act upon his desires to “do good.”
A great scene takes place when Lisa asks Patrick to spend some time with her daughter when she has to work late. The awkwardness between “the new boyfriend” and the young girl can be felt through the screen, as Patrick tries to reach out and connect with her.
Wanting to make a change, Patrick turns to pharmaceuticals, making a Breaking Bad-type 180 for the better, or so it seems. While things pick up at work, his personal life quickly crumbles, as Patrick is no longer the man Lisa thought he was.
You know things aren’t going well when Patrick trades in his scooter for a car, and his complacency for road rage.
Split into four chapters, each chapter shows a different side of Patrick and a different part of his mental journey. Morris is a very natural actor, and he takes the audience along with Patrick on his downward spiral.
This film is all about story, supported by some great visuals (for example, the aforementioned “planted man”).
Klassen compared his film to other films following dark internal struggles, except his film is about an ordinary guy.
It is this ordinariness that makes the story relatable, and has the viewers rooting for Patrick to make the changes he needs to in his life.
Published in Volume 66, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 18, 2012)