Inside Out 2015: Guidance
Getting older and facing your own mortality for some can be a difficult transition. For those who live outside the box, they often feel and know they may not transition well into adulthood. They have greater difficulty finding themselves and their authentic, honest lives. Such is the case with former child star David Gold, a man who invents a life as someone new in order to find himself. Writer, director, and actor Pat Mills, himself a former child actor, has with his film Guidance created a refreshing story about reconnecting with your past to find the courage to deal with the future.
David Gold (Pat Mills) has lost his way in life. He lives a troubled life as an adult, relying on drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. He can’t hold down a job, needs to see a therapist, and is late on his rent again. One evening while sifting through job postings, he comes up with a crazy scheme to pose as a high school guidance counsellor in order to try and relive his youth and get paid for it. As he fakes his way into the job, he begins to get the attention of the students. They can sense that his unorthodox approach to his job has him relating to them more than any other adult at the school ever has. His real, no nonsense advice connects with the kids on a level they can understand and their problems are actually helped. However, his plan begins to unravel when the gay gym teacher discovers his past. This leads him to going on the run with a student who needs his help and they come to a mutual understanding to confront their futures head on.
This film is an excellent example of how strong writing can elevate an independent film to greater heights. It’s sharp, witty dialogue is genuinely funny and Mills has shown himself to have a unique but still relatable voice. Layers of subtext and depth about the confusion David has about his sexuality and the future he is facing show us how we all at some point in our lives create stories and personas to protect ourselves from the frightening realities we are trying to avoid. At times, we all long for the simplicities of youth.
Along with Mills’ performance as David, several of the supporting characters were also standout. In particular, Zahra Bentham as troubled high school student Jabrielle was mature and sensitive and stood solidly alongside the lead character’s dominance in the film. As their character arcs progress, they teach each other how to grow, take responsibility for your own actions, and to face the future with bravery, no matter how scary or difficult.
Pat Mills has written dynamic characters that feel crisp and contemporary and a fun story that is common to many people. We as a city would be rewarded if we allow this talent to be supported and fostered into a larger, more successful career. He has shown himself to be a voice to watch for in the hometown Toronto film community.
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