A view from two generations 🙂

October Gale by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky

Ruba Nadda’s romance/thriller tells the story of widowed “Helen” (Patricia Clarkson) and the hunky fugitive who washes up at her isolated coastal cabin. As she and “Will” (Scott Speedman) get to know each other, a brewing storm causes an unexpected and deadly string of events. Although more thrill is promised than actually delivered, October Gale is a showcase for Patricia Clarkson’s and Scott Speedman’s versatility. (BKP: 3/5)

When Helen opens up her family’s cabin for the first time since her husband’s death, the audience feels the loss of a character we barely meet. A heartbreaking sequence shows Helen walking from room to room, happy memories flooding her mind. Through bursts of brief flashbacks, the audience grieves along with Helen as she sees his old books, his clothes, and his handwritten directions taped to the circuit breaker. She checks her cell phone to hear her husband’s voice and, in typical thriller-movie fashion, there is no reception. Enter Will. When Helen finds the bleeding stranger at her door, her doctor instincts kick in. She removes the bullet from his shoulder, gives him painkillers, and provides him with a warm place to sleep. From there, the film’s plot shifts toWill, his past, and the men who are on the hunt to kill him. Since the two main characters have taken a liking to one another, Helen helps Will brace for the storm and devise a plan (humorously mirroring Kevin McCallister’s blueprint sequence in Home Alone) for whatever happens.

October Gale succeeds on different levels: a good portion of the plot, strong acting, and cinematography. The first two acts of the film leave you wondering: Who is Will and why was he shot? Why did he show up to this stranded island? Why isn’t there better cell phone service? The questions suck you in and make you invested in these complex, round characters. The film’s award-winning producer Daniel Iron, who developed the project for three years with Ruba Nadda, calls the film “an actors’ movie” and it is. The physical and emotional performance by Patricia Clarkson as the strong, grieving widow is the centerpiece of the film. Scott Speedman equally gives a realistic portrayal of a man-on-the-run, acting mysterious enough and charming enough (as per usual) to make it confusing and interesting to the audience. Finally, the cinematography and picturesque shots of scenic Ontario engross you in that world, on that island, secluded from everything else.

The film works much more as a character study, however, than a suspenseful chase on a “dark and stormy night.” Between the lack of thrill and romantic chemistry between the two leads, October Gale doesn’t quite execute its full potential. Nonetheless, the story sends a sincere message about finding new life after loss. Everybody has a past, everybody has regrets, and at some point, everybody feels like they’re on their own stranded island. But sometimes, when we least expect it, someone or something comes along that makes starting over a little more bearable.

CrisisCropTop Photo: Patricia Clarkson as “Helen Matthews.”

Bottom Photo: Clarkson with Scott Speedman as “William.”

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Photo Credits: Courtesy of IFC Films.

Q #1: Does October Gale pass the Bechdel Test?


Not only does Helen have conversations with any women… there are not even any other women in the cast 🙁

Q #2: Where is this story located?

Parry Sound off the Georgian Bay just north of Toronto (Ontario, Canada)



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