Bleak “We Had it Coming” Leaves Us in the Dark

Natalie Krill as Anna in “We Had it Coming”

By Mike Szymanski

This is a dark movie, and I mean literally dark. It’s hard to see anything in many of the scenes, and when a little light is shown, it’s dramatically through the forest, or a flicker here and there.

And it’s tough to say whether it’s night or day. The quick scenes show it’s night time, then it’s morning, then it’s night again, then it’s day, then they’re going to bed. And yet, no time seems to pass at all.

Paul Barbeau directed this all-girl cast in a noir-like thriller who seeks revenge against an abusive pimp. It’s made the film festival circuit at the Prague International Film Festival and the lead actress Natalie Krill earner her a “Stars to Watch” award at the Whistler Film Festival and Best Actress nomination in the Canadian Cinema Awards in Vancouver.

Krill plays Anna, whose sister hangs herself in the opening few minutes of the film because of an abusive relationship. Anna is out to seek revenge.

The director uses the collective “we” in the title as a way of society dealing with the inequality between men and women. And it’s ironic that in this world of prostitution, a man is the director of this powerful and provocative movie. It engenders debate and discussion, but ultimately it fails to provide the collective us a satisfactory conclusion.

With an obviously small budget, this allegorical film is as minimalist as necessary, but shows constantly how women are abused by men, from the school principal, the truck driver, a doctor at an abortion clinic, the lawyer’s boyfriend, a cowboy, all of them are as intrusive and abusive as the pimp that led to the suicide of Anna’s sister.

As dark as the film is, the artistry of the camerawork is notable in itself. The incredible scenes of lights going through trees, and down the streets and into tunnels creates the foreboding atmosphere that permeates the whole film.

Anna is friends and lovers with Olivia, played by Alexia Fast, and their scenes are shot tenderly and lovingly in tender darkness, while the violence and forced sex is in more stark blackness and contrast.

At one point, Olivia finds a gun that Anna is carrying and hides it, fearing what she may do with it. Anna insists on getting it back, but only after promising not to use it. And certainly not to use against the man they are seeking.

The Canadian filmmaker sets all of the story in a small town in the Canadian countryside, and that emphasizes the bleakness of the world set in this film and surrounding these two young women.

It’s not a happy journey, although it’s not “Thelma & Louise,” and it’s not entirely satisfying. But in the end, you know you had it coming. “We Had It Coming” is available on Amazon Prime Video.