Most people have imagined reacting to minor transgressions with aggression, but few would actually do so – for the most part, you just grin and bear it. The person who plays their music too loudly in a public space, the stranger who repeatedly bumps you in a line or the customer that can't make a decision – showing these people exactly what you think of their behaviour would be satisfying, but inappropriate. In Toronto After Dark
, the protagonist has vivid fantasies about doing just that, but eventually the line between imagined and reality begins to blur.
Aiden (Josh Lawson) is a pretty average guy. He has a secret crush on his neighbour (Emma Lung) and is generally boring - if you ignore the fact that he takes and sells photos of crime scenes with the help of his AA sponsor (Ron Perlman). In his mind however, he protects helpless women from hooligans and is applauded for criticizing modern art. Finally acting on some of these impulses, Aiden's life begins to change – first for the better, then gradually worse. As he loses control, the consequences of his actions become more severe.
Aiden's brain-to-mouth filter basically malfunctions, allowing thoughts to continue through unfettered. This leads him to accidentally threaten a woman in the grocery store, which actually paints the biggest grin on his face. The more conscious decisions to take action and confront people face-to-face always result in a bungled affair that doesn't even remotely resemble how he imagined it would go.
While the film does contain similarities (and several homages) to Taxi Driver
, there is a significant difference between Aiden and Travis Bickle: the former is more likeable. Aiden is funny and caring; he's the underdog. When he screws up, the audience feels sorry for him while still commending his effort. There are moments in which he says or does something that is wildly inappropriate or hurtful, but it's so uncharacteristic you're able to quickly get over it.
There is nothing to indicate when Aiden is fantasizing, except the outrageousness of his actions or when he actually returns to reality. Though filmmakers also play with this element of the film by tricking audiences and making the seemingly impossible real. The back-and-forth keeps the movie interesting, requiring the viewer to pay attention to the details while being cathartically entertained by Aiden's responses.
Director: Charles de Lauzirika
Starring: Josh Lawson
, Emma Lung
and Ron Perlman