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The High Cost of Living

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Isabelle Blais and Zach Braff in The High Cost Of Living

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Let's call it the Chance Encounter Anticipation Principle (or Ch.E.A.P.). When a film introduces two characters leading completely unrelated lives, it's a structural certainty that their paths will "unexpectedly" cross. On a cold winter's night in Montreal, pregnant Nathalie (Blais) thinks she feels contractions. Nervous and unable to reach her condescending corporate dirtbag of a husband (Labb), she staggers into the street to hail a cab. Meanwhile, deadbeat drug dealer Henry (Braff) gets drunk, goes dancing and drives off to complete one last score, his eyes only intermittently on the road. Cue the inevitable awful convergence. 

From its fatal accident onward, Deborah Chow's earnest first feature is a dead ringer for this summer's Another Earth, albeit without the latter's dopey stargazing. Plot circumstances eventually give way to the richer spectacle of High's stars settling into a gentle, disarmingly sincere pas de deux. Between Blais's feather-soft placidity---her expressions minutely shift like they're on a dimmer switch---and clown-faced Braff's adolescent scruff, they never make sense as an onscreen duo, though that's purposefully the point: Shared tragedy can bind together the most unlikely of people. Movies often make too much of that truism, but surprisingly committed performances from actors like these can still make it feel like something meaningful. Or, at the very least, like a compelling diversion until a contrived denouement reveals the high cost of going Ch.E.A.P.

Follow Eric Hynes on Twitter: @eshynes

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Written by Eric Hynes
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