Director: Kathleen Hepburn
CANADA, 2017 English 110 minutes
Principal Cast: Shirley Henderson, Théodore Pellerin, Nicholas Campbell, Lorne Cardinal, Jared Abrahamson, Jonathan Whitesell, Mary Galloway
The highly anticipated feature debut from Kathleen Hepburn, one of Canada’s most promising young filmmakers, Never Steady, Never Still is a devastating examination of the costs of long-term illness on a family. Shirley Henderson (Anna Karenina, Marie Antoinette) delivers a fearless, deeply
moving performance as Judy, a woman who has battled Parkinson’s disease nearly all her married life. As the illness exacts its toll, her husband, Eddie (Nicholas Campbell; Unless, Goon), struggles to care for her — and pushes their son, Jamie (2017 TIFF Rising Star Théodore Pellerin; It’s Only The End of the World, Endorphine), into adulthood, demanding he take a job far from home.
Propelled by a profound sense of empathy and loss, Never Steady heartbreakingly charts the decline in Judy’s health (her increasing difficulty in managing even quotidian tasks) and fiercely, poetically laments what might have been. Judy recounting for her support group the way Eddie proposed marriage may be the most touching thing you’ll see this year.
Hepburn’s compassion shines even in the ancillary characters: pregnant teenage shop clerk Kaly (Mary Galloway, Fire Song) is the soul of generosity while Jamie’s vile and pathetic foreman (Jared Abrahamson, Hello Destroyer) represents the outside world's boundless appetite for cruelty.
The film serves as an affecting reminder that family can mess you up but also stand as the last bastion against a world that is more hostile than might have been hoped, especially for those battling illness.
“The small, exquisite moments hit hard in Hepburn’s feature debut about a family coping with tragedy while living in isolation... Hepburn makes it work because she’s interested in more than the schematics. Each character, and their every exchange, feels lived-in, rich and poetic.”
– Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine