Edited by Jonathan Alberts & Benjamin Duffield
Cinematography by Claudine Sauvé
Cast: Zach Braff, Isabelle Blaise & Patrick Labbé
With his latest feature Zach Braff has made a pointed decision to reinvent himself. Gone is the cuddly or quirky Zach Braff of “Scrubs” or “Garden State”.
In “The High Cost of Living”, Braff plays Henry Welles, a drug dealing American expat living in Montreal. The story really begins when Henry runs into Nathalie Beauchamp. I mean he literally runs into her with this car, as he is driving the wrong way one wintry night looking for a client’s building.
Believing she is in labor, she steps out of her apartment building to hail a cab. The movie has already established that her husband, a workaholic, is not emotionally available to Natalie. Nor does he step up to the plate after it is determined that the baby is still born. More tragically, because Natalie has sustained a concussion and other injuries when hit by the car, the doctors cannot perform the abortion to remove the dead fetus.
Tormented with guilt, Henry —who drove off from the scene of the accident in a panic— attempts to find and make contact with Nathalie, something made easier after she walks out of her marriage. Carrying around 8 1/2 months of a pregnancy in her belly, Henry first makes contact with her at a bar where she is drinking away her problems.
When she is castigated by a couple of patrons who are ignorant to her circumstances, Henry intervenes and a friendship begins, not completely dissimilar to the plot device used in last year’s Ben Affleck film, “The Town”. Like the relationship developed in that film, Henry and Nathalie’s is based on lies and misfortune, Nathalie being none the wiser.
The friendship does, however, humanize Henry who begins to re-evaluate his own life and the choices he has made along the way.
There is also a subplot involving the downstairs Chinese family from whom Henry rents his apartment. He initially asks the teenage son to do some snooping around for him to help track down his victim. The young man’s involvement ends up making him a primary suspect, another victim of Henry’s although perhaps not intended.
“The High Cost of Living”, directed by first time feature director, Deborah Chow, is a real departure for Braff from a career standpoint. His name carries the film and has helped it find its way through a number of festivals (it enjoyed a successful premiere at the Toronto Film Festival) and now available day & date with the Tribeca film Festival / Tribeca Film On Demand.