Writer: Kathleen Hepburn (Screenplay)
Starring: Shirley Henderson, Theodore Pellerin, Mary Galloway, Nicholas Campbell, Jared Abrahamson, Hugo Ateo
Plot: A mother struggles to take control of her life in the face of advanced Parkinson’s disease, while her son battles his sexual and emotional identity amongst the violence of Alberta’s oil field work camps.
Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Brave Look at Parkinson’s Suffering
Story: Never Steady, Never Still starts as we meet Judy (Henderson) a woman struggling with Parkinson’s, her husband Ed (Campbell) cares for her the best he can, while their son Jamie (Pellerin) heads off into the world to find a job before going off to college, he starts in the oil field work camps which leave him feeling out of place.
When Ed dies suddenly, Judy is left to care for herself with just the locals looking after her the best they can without interfering in her life. Jamie’s life isn’t going any better as he is struggling to learn about himself in the harsh working environment.
Thoughts on Never Steady, Never Still
Characters – Judy is suffering from advanced Parkinson’s she does seem to be in control for the most part, but when her bad moments happen, her husband is there to help, she goes to support groups to help cope with everyday issues, only for her husband to die and leaving her alone to deal with the problems she doesn’t want to ask for help and the snowy conditions only make her life more difficult. Jamie is her son that is being forced to work in the oil fields where he must learn quickly just to make enough money to support himself with any future with college, he is trying to learn about himself which makes his life decisions even more difficult. Kaly is the local shop assistant that helps Judy with delivers while waiting for her boyfriend to return to help her with her pregnancy. Ed is the father and husband that cares for Judy, he always helps her until he suffers a heart attack.
Performances – Shirley Henderson is great in the leading role showing us just how difficult everyday life can be with Parkinson’s she doesn’t overplay the illness, while showing us just how difficult it can be to live with. Theodore Pellerin is good too, though a lot of his scenes are about him not knowing his place in the world which takes away from the difficulties his mother is meant to be going through. Theodore Pellerin is strong in his role though he never gets to the levels of Shirley, which can be said for the rest of the supporting cast.
Story – The story here follows a woman suffering from advanced Parkinson’s she has support from her husband and has been doing the best she can with the disease, we see how her struggle becomes more difficult when her husband dies and with her son away she must deal with the problems alone in condition that will not make her suffering any easier. This side of the story is the best side because it shows us a real problem that could be faced by people with small families who can’t give up days to support the sufferer. On the other side of the story we follow her son as he wants to figure out his own body while dealing with harsh working condition, this side of the story does drag and because of Judy’s problems we want to see her life rather than his.
Settings – The film is set in Alberta which does put us in a place with harsh weather condition that the characters must work through, being away from easier support doesn’t help.
Final Thoughts – This is a slow paced drama that does show us just how difficult living with Parkinson’s can be, it has a wonderful leading lady performance, but might not be for everyone.
Overall: Simple and Effective Drama.