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Eclipse Review

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In the two weeks preceeding a solar eclipse in Toronto, ten people each have two sexual encounters. Meanwhile, the hype and hysteria surrounding the eclipse are caught on film by a schoolboy.

★★★★★

This Canadian arthouse movie about a string of sexual liaisons in the run-up to a total eclipse of the sun has all the ingredients to be steamy, risque and sizzling with energy, but decides not to bother. Depicting intimate monotone encounters to the strains of Eastern mood music, debut writer-director Jeremy Podeswa concentrates on cinematic trickery instead of characters you can root for or fresh insights to argue over.

The film uses the forthcoming big blackout to symbolise people letting their darker desires hang loose. So a chain of twosomes kicks off with a spot of soulless buggery between a middle-aged businessman and a rent-boy, before moving on to involve a domestic, a refugee, a pretty-boy teenager, an artist and a "wild child" with strange trinkets in her hair. All this uncomfy illicit nookie is intercut with titbits of media hype over the impending celestial phenomenon, but the contrast simply isn't punchy enough and Podeswa unforgivably smothers most of the comic potential.

On the plus side, the dialogue is sprinkled with snappy social observations and Podeswa's plot device of moving one partner on from each episode to the next - a style fermented by Richard Linklater's Slacker - injects a welcome degree of intrigue and forward momentum into the proceedings.

While the cast of ten acquit themselves well (especially Matthew Ferguson, who gets all the best lines) and it's occasionally sensually arresting, in general this is art-before-passion stuff liable to leave the pulses on the starting blocks.