by Bill Chambers 27 according to the IMDb but convincingly aged down, Tatiana Maslany gives a star-making performance in Picture Day as 18-year-old Claire, who's forced to repeat the twelfth grade after failing math and phys-ed. It seems obvious that she in fact chose not to be jettisoned from the womb of high school just yet, though she shows little interest in actually attending classes, to the consternation of the vice principal (Catherine Fitch). ("You can't stay in high school forever, Claire," the VP tells her. "You did," Claire snaps.) One day, she joins a kid who's deviated from his gym class to smoke up--are teenage potheads really this brazen now?--and discovers that he's Henry (Spencer Van Wyck), the timid boy she used to babysit, all grown up. A science wiz who turned down a private-school education (he sort of resents his intellect--plus, it was an all-boys academy), he even grows his own marijuana, in a closet that contains, among other things, a shrine to Claire filled with enough traces of her DNA--chewed gum, soiled tissues, hair bands--that one wonders if he intends to clone her.
Obtuse about Henry's attraction to her, Claire volunteers to give him a makeover to make him more palatable to the opposite sex. (Flashbacks to home videos of Claire pushing young Henry to conquer his fear of the monkey bars suggest they're slipping back into old roles.) She's fobbing him off, maybe, to spend more time with Jim (Steven McCarthy), the lead singer of The Elastocitizens--a real Toronto band, I was surprised to discover, as I assumed from their eclecticism and dickishness that writer-director Kate Melville had set out to lampoon Arcade Fire. Jim likes having Claire around at first, but she's a groupie and a young one at that, given to inappropriate gloating about her sexual history. One scene in which she tells the band a particularly off-putting anecdote has a devastating emotional logic: She's overcompensating for her trashy reputation, trying to own it before it can own her, yet Jim, both mentally and chronologically, is so far removed from the high-school rumour mill that what he detects in her voice is not feminist pride but the folly of youth. Indeed, the movie's full of credibly human moments like this, such that the cheap and unconvincing ending is a real letdown. But I suppose it's simultaneously challenging, which is more than I can say for the pat way Claire and Henry's respective home lives are portrayed. (Swap Claire's neglectful mother for Henry's smothering parents and you might have something.) Still, Picture Day leaves a pleasant aftertaste, and I can't help but chalk most of that up to Maslany, whose charisma reminds of Emma Stone's in that it borders on ridiculous. Programme: Discovery