Canopy is a war film which focuses on a different kind of battle, not a fight to conquer, but rather a fight to survive. Jim (Khan Chittenden) and Seng (Tzu-yi Mo) find themselves compelled to work together to survive when they quite literally stumble into one another in the impregnable Singapore jungle. Having little ability to verbally communicate, the Australian and Chinese soldiers decide in a single moment — brought on by fear of the unknown and possibility of capture — to work together to hopefully find safety. Along the way as the two endure the tumultuous situation the relationship that develops between these two wayward soldiers, transcends all language barriers, difference in race, colour or creed and hones in on the very universal message of kindness.
Canopy is probably quite unlike any other film in the TIFF line up as it finds itself telling its story almost entirely without dialogue. Canopy is a film which depends very much on sight, sound and an understanding between the viewer and the filmmaker as to what story is being told.
In this film, communicated beautifully by the lead actors, is an understanding brought on by the need to survive and maintain an unfailing sense of humanity. There is a key moment between Jim and Seng in which you realize exactly how conditioned we are as a people to depend on and bond with one another (especially in dire situations), but it is not until a second event occurs that this message truly sinks in.
Canopy is one of those films that makes you think about what it is to be a human being under extreme circumstances and the most subtle ways as well, which come into play in this wartime cinematic driven by semiotics. Also, there are some clever point-of-view camera angles and intense sound effects throughout the film which makes for some realism and a sense of being there.
Is Canopy essential TIFF viewing?
If you like those films that generate some good soul searching, this is the film for you.
Canopy screening times
- Tuesday, September 10 – 6:45 pm – Scotiabank Theatre
- Friday, September 13 – 2:45 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox
More About Canopy