First thing I want to see about this film is the incredible cinematography by Benjamin Loeb. Capturing the long and harsh winters of Prince George, British Colombia, Loeb’s lens casts a clear, but perceptive eye with beautiful blue and green tones that blends in well with the bits of city life in the story.
This film devastated me. That’s to say Hello Destroyer, Kevan Funk’s feature debut is a must see film. Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson) is hockey rookie in the Prince George Warriors and like most young hockey players he’s trained like a gladiator to take as much as he gives on the ice in order to win. Hockey helmets shine and male energy clashes in battle. Off the ice the boys joke around and sometimes mention the after affects of the sport on the bodies: ears ringing, train for the sport, and dedicate their all. Their hyper masculinity displays itself at parties or outside of the sport at parties showing his stronger and cleverer; who can take a punch. Tyson can take a punch as well as he can give it and unfortunately this violence will speak volumes for the rest of the film. Someone gets critically hurt and Tyson has to pay for how hockey culture accepts the violence it so often glorifies.
His family, his coach, and his hockey league all wash their hands of him and denying their responsibility for the incident. This leaves Tyson without the community that held him in high appraisal. It’s almost as if they don’t want to see the brutality they cultivated within him backfiring. It’s quite a trip to see this young man go from being seen with complete respect and expectation to vilified and disenfranchised.
The film is quite minimalist in dialogue and very contemplative with scenes of abrupt motion in between long shots of Tyson and the environments he inhabits. Scenes of viscera in the slaughterhouse he ends up working in extol volumes of being put out to pasture, or rather, being left for dead meat when something is no longer of use. Jared Abrahamson is quietly expressive with his soulful portrayal of Jared. Jared is tough, but he’s vulnerable and that comes out as he walks through the town. His interactions with his parents are stilted and his coaches (Ian Tracy and Kurt Max Runte) treat him more like a tool to be used and discarded than the innocent kid he is.
This is a film that should provoke discussion on the negative aspects of hockey culture. I mean, it is kind of taboo to talk about since part of the excitement and grandeur of hockey is in the spontaneous punch-ups and the clashes that rock the scoreboard. People are passionate about their sport of choice and feel a part of it because they live the triumphs and sorrows of their teams. So when I say it is taboo to talk about the dangers in the frenzy of sport, it’s unspoken because at times that violence is detrimental to the enjoyment of the game. Who is to be held accountable for the broken necks, the never-ending tinnitus, the brain damage, and the possible long-term effects of the sometimes ruthlessness of a sport? What happens to the hockey player who is fired because was just doing his job? These are the questions that will come up, hopefully. Hockey is awesome, but this film did make me think.
Kevan Funk’s feature debut is a must see film.