Clydecynic: Busan Review

Title doesn’t break new ground but it covers familiar territory astutely.

Ramiro Belanger’s feature debut is study of a young man’s increasingly destructive rage.

There’s something non-confrontationally Canadian about the central character of Ramiro Belanger’s Clydecynic, a Guy Madden-esque study of a young man’s increasingly destructive rage and the fallout of keeping it bottled up.

Twenty-year-old Clyde Nelson (Alex Weiner) is a mealy-mouthed, self-trained hypnotist working for a combination ponzi scheme, inspirational speaking outfit brilliantly called Take the Power Keep the Power. His meek nature is no surprise given that he still lives at home with his abusive father, Elijah (Mark Krupa). But work is another story, where Clyde is charming and inspirational — and a cash cow. His bosses disagree about his value: the face of Power, Dion (Richard Zeman) sympathizes with Clyde’s difficult life, co-founder Wayne (Francis JR Gould) thinks he’s unstable and dangerous. As Clyde’s familial dysfunction pushes him closer and closer toward a total meltdown, a young woman comes to him for help finding and keeping her power, and she’s the catalyst that proves Clyde’s toxicity.

Shot in hard black and white, Clydecynic would be experimental if it didn’t have a fairly conventional narrative. The entire films rests on Clyde’s unraveling, and when his abuse manifests as therapy and he starts taking out his anger on his clients, narrative is cast aside in favor of watching his downward spiral. Editor-writer-director Belanger gets in tight and the camera doesn’t allow for glancing away. Explorations of explosive rage are nothing new, but Clyde is aware that he’s a hazard and he might like it; it’s hard to tell when Clyde is being genuine, even at his most traumatized.

Bleak as Clydecynic can be at times, there are some moments of wry levity -- Clyde’s empowerment speech and a co-worker’s idea for how to use pins among them, and the casting is almost perfect. Weiner’s big doe eyes and baby face make his descent into violence all the more disturbing, and Zeman has the new-agey self-help presence of a hybrid of Mr. Clean and Anthony Robbins. If there’s a fault it’s Krupa, who’s saddled with a character so heinous it actually makes him seem less monstrous, as it’s the shadings of humanity that always make abusers so horrifying.

Cast: Alex Weiner, Mark Krupa, Richard Zeman
Director: Ramiro Belanger
86 minutes