The Hanging Garden

Watch The Hanging Garden

  • R
  • 1997
  • 1 hr 31 min
  • 6.9  (3,063)

The Hanging Garden is a Canadian drama movie released in 1997, directed by Thom Fitzgerald. It tells the story of a dysfunctional family in a small town in Nova Scotia, who are reunited for a wedding after many years. The protagonist of the story is a young man named Sweet William, played by Chris Leavins, who returns to his hometown for his sister's wedding after twelve years of absence. William left home when he was a teenager due to his conflicted relationship with his overweight mother, who he blamed for his father's suicide. His abrupt departure also caused a rift with his childhood friends and family, who are skeptical about his return and remain resentful towards him.

As William arrives in his hometown, he is haunted by memories of his past, which he has tried to suppress. He is also confronted by his ex-girlfriend, Violet (Kerry Fox), whom he left behind when he left town. Violet is now married to a man named Fletcher (Peter MacNeill), who is wheelchair-bound and unable to fulfill her emotional and physical needs. Violet is torn between her loyalty towards her husband and her unresolved feelings for William, who she sees as her soulmate.

The movie explores the themes of dysfunctional families, sexual identity, and self-acceptance, with a touch of magical realism. As the wedding approaches, William is forced to confront his painful past and come to terms with his homosexuality, which he has kept hidden from his family and friends. He keeps having visions of his younger self, who comforts him and shows him the way towards self-forgiveness and healing.

William's relationship with his mother, played by Joan Orenstein, is at the heart of the movie. They have a complex dynamic, characterized by mutual resentment, guilt, and nostalgia. William's mother is now morbidly obese and bedridden, unable to leave her room or communicate effectively with her son. William is haunted by his father's death, which he blames on his mother's neglect and emotional abuse. As he reconnects with his family and friends, William realizes that his mother's behavior was a manifestation of her own emotional trauma and insecurity, which resulted in her overeating and emotional withdrawal.

The movie is told in a non-linear way, with flashbacks and dream sequences that add depth and complexity to the characters' motivations and emotions. The symbolism of the hanging garden, which William's sister creates for her wedding, is a metaphor for the fragility and beauty of human relationships, which need to be nurtured and maintained to thrive.

The performances in the movie are outstanding, especially Chris Leavins as William, who brings a nuanced and vulnerable portrayal of a man struggling to reconcile his past and present selves. Kerry Fox and Ian Parsons, who plays William's childhood friend, also deliver convincing and touching performances. The music of the movie, composed by Shaun Davey, adds a haunting and ethereal quality to the story.

Overall, The Hanging Garden is a poignant and thought-provoking movie that explores the complexities and contradictions of human relationships, and the power of forgiveness and love to heal deep wounds. It is a testament to the resilience of the human soul, and the importance of confronting our past to move forward with grace and compassion.

The Hanging Garden is a 1997 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 31 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9.

The Hanging Garden
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 31 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (3,063)