Sincere Drama About Mortality Boasts Great Richard Gere & Uma Thurman Performances


  • Paul Schrader’s direction is sincere and personal, emphasizing legacy and regret.
  • The nonlinear framework of Oh, Canada can be puzzling but highlights mortality and manipulation.
  • Richard Gere’s portrayal as Fife candidly confronts regret and decisions in a genuine reflection on life.

Towards the end of life, it’s common for people to examine their legacy and reflect on the decisions they’ve made throughout the years. With this type of introspection, feelings of pride often emerge when thinking about accomplishments. There are also moments when deep regret comes to the forefront thanks to secrets that have been buried. Director Paul Schrader took to filmmaking to examine these concepts on the deathbed. Adapted from the 2021 novel, Foregone, by Russell Brooks, Oh, Canada feels like a deeply personal reflection on death. With sincerity and style, Schrader offers a thoughtful film about life and legacy.

Oh, Canada is a lighthearted comedy about an American businessman who unexpectedly inherits a maple syrup farm in rural Canada. As he navigates the quirks of small-town life and syrup farming, he learns valuable lessons about community and simplicity.


  • Gere and Thurman are an exceptional pairing.
  • Schrader’s direction feels sincere and personal.

  • The script isn’t always straightforward and can come off confusing.
  • Elordi doesn’t get enough time to show what he can do with this script.

Schrader Directs A Sincere Film About Legacy & Regret

A man stands with a camera in Oh Canada movie still

Documentary filmmaker, Leonard Fife (Richard Gere), suffers from terminal cancer. Though he experiences extreme pain while in and out of consciousness (thanks to his prescription medicine), Fife has agreed to recount his life’s work in an interview with former students Malcolm (Michael Imperioli) and Diana (Victoria Hill). Upon their arrival, they set up shop with a new technology developed by Fife himself: A lens that enables the subject to see the interviewee’s face. At first, Fife is reluctant to participate. After a long career of extracting the truth from others, he’s finally ready to put himself in the hot seat.

Schrader’s camera work sells the nonlinear timeline with the fade-aways and by blurring the lines between reality and imagination.

At the start of the interview, Fife makes it clear that his wife Emma (Uma Thurman) must be present. He intends to share information about himself that not even she knows. As he recounts his life through effective narration, Leonard (now played by a convincing Jacob Elordi as the young Fife) takes us through times when he makes questionable decisions. The aspect ratio also changes with the storytelling, which amplifies our ability to connect with his memories. Schrader’s camera work sells the nonlinear timeline with the fade-aways and by blurring the lines between reality and imagination.

Frequent stoppages during the interview by Emma bring up an interesting dynamic between the two. As Fife reveals concerning details while telling his story, it becomes unbelievable to her, which then results in Emma blaming his meds. Schrader magnifies this by fading in and out of the memories just like Fife’s mind does. And whether what he says is the truth is never the point. Through the small interactions in the present, the message becomes about revealing sides of ourselves as we never have before. And ultimately, Schrader is telling us that we may never truly know our partners.

Oh, Canada Is A Bit Puzzling Thanks To Its Nonlinear Framework

Uma Thurman sits solemnly in Oh Canada still

For Fife, making this documentary is like a confession to the world that his entire legacy built on escaping the war is a lie. In reality, Leonard was a liar and a cheat, running away from his responsibilities at every single chance was exactly who he was. Whether it was leaving relationships when they became serious or abandoning his son, Fife fesses up to his character once and for all. Is his desire to finally speak the truth a quick fix of redemption? Probably not. It’s simply a personal showcase where Schrader gets to confront mortality in a way that feels sincere, albeit at times puzzling.

For a film that took a mere 17 days to shoot, Oh, Canada is genuine in how it captures death, manipulation, and regret. The dialogue and narration are the strengths, and Gere’s voice soothes you through his pain of admittance. Early on, Gere’s Leonard Fife proclaims that “when you have no future, all you have left is your past.” It feels like Schrader’s personal awakening at this time in his life as a filmmaker. And though much of the film’s message remains a mystery, it feels necessarily intentional to make us all reflect on our own decisions and regrets before it’s too late.

Oh, Canada screened during the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

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