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The Hanging Garden
The Hanging Garden
Actors: Chris Leavins, Kerry Fox, Ian Parsons, Peter MacNeill, Troy Veinotte
Director: Thom Fitzgerald
Genres: Drama
R     2003     1hr 31min

"Unpredictable" (The Hollywood Reporter), "imaginative" (Movieline) and "powerfully acted" (The New York Times), The Hanging Garden combines a "bittersweet story about family secrets" (Premiere) and compelling performances...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Chris Leavins, Kerry Fox, Ian Parsons, Peter MacNeill, Troy Veinotte
Director: Thom Fitzgerald
Creators: Daniel Jobin, Thom Fitzgerald, Arnie Gelbart, Gilles Bélanger, Louise Garfield, Mark Hammond
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/03/2003
Original Release Date: 11/07/1997
Theatrical Release Date: 11/07/1997
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Fully logical in my view
Eric R. Rodriguez | Encino, CA United States | 01/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Death indeed takes many forms, and Thom Fitzgerald presents one of them here in a very dramatic way. William comes home ten years after his, but it was of course not an actual death, rather the termination of a life of obesity, ridicule and insecurity. Fletcher's rejection, and the ensuing small-town gossip, are what finally caused him to flee to the big city and cut off all communication with family and friends. He returns, reborn as a slim, handsome urbanite, who will not be satisfied until that rejection is reversed.There is a lot of confusion among viewers of this film regarding the corpse that appears to be hanging in the garden. While at least three family members recognize it, it has never physically existed. William has survived the suicide attempt (rather than give in, he is still struggling when the scene ends), and is thus alive ten years later. What hangs from the tree is the broken spirit of a very troubled boy--and the entity that reveals the undercurrent of the plot.Though in appearance a mature adult, William behaves at Rosemary's wedding as if he were trying to experience the childhood he missed. He is late for the ceremony, is dancing with his grandmother in her attic room while he is supposed to be with the rest of the wedding party, and hides under a table during the reception so he can throw flower petals onto the grass for guests to slip on. The pleasures of youth are abruptly halted when he must take care of his drunken father and then help organize a search for his missing mother. Compounding the difficulties are visions of himself as a young boy, using food to assuage hurt feelings, and of course the hanging "corpse."Later, as both of them envision the corpse, Rosemary reveals to William that she opted to hold her wedding in the garden so as to remember her brother as he "left," rather than as he "came back." Although she doesn't want to let go of the overweight, "Sweet William," the adult will have no part of it and sees his chance to put it all to rest when Fletcher comes on to him down on the dock, the site of an earlier affectionate encounter. After confirming that he holds great attraction over his brother-in-law, William fakes an asthma attack (he has no problem running up the hill), and goes to bury the corpse. Having given up on reliving the past in a more pleasant way, he opts for putting it to rest so he can start anew.Whiskey Mac, like Rosemary, wishes to hold on to the boy he knew ten years ago. It is revealed that he, too, has sensed the corpse when William tells him he has buried it. Devastated, the father tries to exhume it, but the son will not permit him. Of course no physical remains would appear, as none exist, but William doesn't want his father going through the motions of digging up what should be left in place. As George adamantly stated to Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the boy is "dead" and there is no use bringing him up again."
Struck a chord...
J. Lane | Nashville, TN United States | 03/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Everyone's family is crazy, right? Sweet William's family, in which everyone is named after a plant, might just leave you missing your own weird relatives. He's been gone for 10 years, lost a huge amount of weight, and transformed his life. Yet his family has stayed relatively unchanged and he feels himself falling back into the familiar patterns of fitting in with their dysfunction. There is his alzheimer-ridden granny in the attic whom everyone treats like a strange doll. His newly-wed sister, Rosemary, ascerbic but somehow endearing, and her groom, Fletcher, who has and has had an erotic obsession for William since childhood. There is the oddly masculine girl, Violet, blonde and potty-mouthed. Their father is an affectionate but abusive drunken gardener; their mother a bitter and and controlling woman on the edge of an emotional breakdown. The film slips in and out of time, exploring the world that brought William to manhood: his memorization of plants and their harvesting times as a small child--where a mistake led to a slap, his first sexual exploration with Fletcher, his loss of virginity with a prostitute arranged by his mother, his grandmother's condemnation of his homosexuality, his own hatred of self.Like a drumbeat throughout the movie is the question William answers by the end: "Why am I doing this to myself?" His acceptance of his family and the responsibility that being in a family brings gives the movie a tidy and serene closure.I'd recommend this movie to anyone with siblings and skeletons in the closet. It is the sort of film that Canada tends to produce--a film that would not do well in American cinemas, but that thoughtful people will enjoy."
An overgrown garden
B. Berthold | Somewhere out west... | 07/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Like many things Canadian, this film takes a bit of getting used to. At first glance, it seemed confusing and too understated and I was on the verge of writing off the whole Canadian film industry as a load of bunkum, when I gave myself and the film a second chance. And I'm glad I did.'The Hanging Garden' is in many ways, 'American Beauty' taken up north. There's family dysfunction galore, (...)repressed and rescued, symbolism around every corner and yes, the flowers. But whereas Sam Mendes' opus concentrates on the symbolism of the rose, Canadian Thom Fitzgerald throws a whole garden at us. Sweet Williams, Black-Eyed Susans, Violets, Laurels and even an Iris, the image of garden as family and flower as individual is brilliantly done here. And whereas Mendes focused on satirizing the surface of things, Fitzgerald has gone deep into some pretty dark territory.Sweet William returns 'home' after a ten-year exile from his family and painful childhood. He arrives on the day his beloved sis, Rosemary, is to be married. Nothing out of the ordinary, just Sweet Willy's a little late. And for a reason. This Sweet William is a much different person than the one who escaped ten years ago.As the story unfolds, the weeds of the family's past begin to poke up through the dirt. William returns to an alcoholic father, Whiskey Mac, who has succeeded in alienating just about everybody with his tyrannical selfishness. In fact, on the night of his return, William helps him to bed and then has a heart to heart chat with his mother, Iris. Iris blames her children and her abusive husband for keeping her in bondage, when in fact, her own exaggerated sense of duty has kept her locked up all along. She suddenly elopes from the house and sets the family upside down as to why she has disappeared.As the search for answers continues, William sees the ghosts of his former unhappy self, an obese, self-loathing teen who can't come to terms with his own homosexuality, glide through the house and garden. William retraces the steps of his sorrowful childhood, from his first (...)experience (with the boy who would later become his sister's husband!) to the final climax of his self-hatred. William must confront the person he tried to kill ten years ago in the garden. Who was he? Why was he pushed to such an act? And how can he move on? But his journey to freedom means facing some unpleasant truths from the past and present, not all entirely of his own making. Caught in flagrante delicto with a boy by his near-senile, Virgin-hugging Catholic granny, William is sent to the local prostitute. Sent by his mother no less! And ten years later, William learns that the foul-mouthed tom-boy brat at his sister's wedding is actually the fruit of that most unpleasant union. Moreover, his sister's groom, Fletcher, Willy's first love whose rejection led to the near-fatal suicide attempt, now desires the new, sexy William more than ever!The film is convoluted, contrived and utterly confusing as plausibilty is stretched to the limits. It would be hard to find such mother as Iris, or a husband-to-be like Fletcher, but somehow, the film makes you believe it all could have happened. And that's the whole point. Whatever really happened in the past is never as clear as we would like it to be. Lines cross, colors bleed and images blur. At first, the acting struck me as too low-key, but after two more viewings, the subtle performances of Chris Leavin (William), Peter Mc Neill (Whiskey Mac), and Seanna Mc Kanna (Iris), more than made up for the lack of big names involved. Also, the backdrop of Celtic music combined with exquisite camera work (close-ups of flowers and faces!) made the film a treat to watch. Despite some pernicious weeds, 'The Hanging Garden' makes its case. In order for us to free ourselves from our past, we need to confront it and then bury it deep, for under every flower bed lies a whole lot of manure."
Quite unique
B. Berthold | 06/15/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I liked this film a lot - it made me cry.Now, I'll let youin on a little secret----the film is about a homosexual guy who returns home after running away from his family over 10 years earlier. When he left he was a huge (as in obease) teenager, struggling with being homosexual, and having tried to kill himself. He returns a svealt, kind of happy adult and takes a rather painful trip down memory lane. The secret is, I probably liked it because I used to be a 350 pound homosexual teenager---and I'm not anymore......but you always remember. So I warn you ahead of time, I might be somewhat personally jaded.Personal experience aside, the film should work for just about everyone-----it has an uncanny ability to hone in on your emotions. They are all there--fear, loathing, confusion, sadness, acceptance. All as seen through one man who now sees just how unhappy and miserable all the people he left behind really always were.It's definatly a film wirht having--you will watch it atleast 3 or four times and always find it entertaining."