Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"If you're looking for something personal, something that dares to explore what is often avoided, this is well worth seeking out."

Derek (Derek Bogart) is 34 years old. He lives in his parents' basement, where he messes around on his computer and makes vague efforts to become an animator. He also works for his uncle's construction company. He doesn't seem to have any direction. Perhaps that's okay. Sooner of late, something will happen, he muses. But watching him, one can't shake the feeling that something about Derek is not quite right.

Perhaps it's an innate dishonesty. Derek makes up stories - just little ones, so far as we know, but we don't know what they might be covering for. There's a sort of visual lie in the way he contorts his face to make himself look uglier than he is. And there's the cut on his face, the bruises dicovered after he wakes up hungover on the living room floor. The last we saw, he was getting out of a cab to pursue two women who had shared it with him, ostensibly for social reasons. What happened? Wondering about this creates a level of background tension that the film sustains throughout its running time.

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Essentially, Tower is a character study. Not much happens, which is part of the point. Derek seems to go out of his way to make sure of it. He doesn't want his parents' friend helping him to market his animation. He's hesitant about a possible new relationship; could it be his first? Something seems to be simmering inside him and we're waiting for it to explode, but the possibility that it won't is somehow even more disquieting. How many people like Derek are there out there? We've all met them. Some of us will have gone out of our way to avoid them.

Despite this, Bogart succeeds in generating flashes of sympathy for his troubled character. There are people whom Derek, too, would understandably like to avoid. Despite his reticence, he sometimes does favours for people, and we sense that it costs him. He also has what seems like a real connection with his family's two dogs, and he takes care over the treatment of a captured raccoon.

If you're looking for story or action, this is not the film for you. If you're looking for something personal, something that dares to explore what is often avoided, it's well worth seeking out. Radwanski takes the viewer in close, right up beside his protagonist, right in his face. Is this how Derek experiences the world? It's uneasily intimate. That other question lingers. What has Derek done? What is he going to do? At the heart of it is the terrible prospect of nothingness.

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2013
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An isolated, nerdy man with poor social skills embarks on a romantic relationship, but can it help him connect to the wider world?

Director: Kazik Radwanski

Writer: Kazik Radwanski

Starring: Derek Bogart, Nicole Fairbairn, Deborah Sawyer

Year: 2012

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: Canada

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