Review: ‘Vancouver: No Fixed Address’

Hot Docs 2017

2 mins read

Vancouver: No Fixed Address
(Canada, 75 min.)
Dir. Charles Wilkinson
Programme: Canadian Spectrum (World Premiere)


Home ownership in Vancouver has become nearly impossible, and in Vancouver: No Fixed Address, director Charles Wilkinson examines the causes and effects of this critical issue. Unfortunately, his documentary suffers from structural and aesthetic problems, which work against its urgent subject matter.

Looking to the housing market in Vancouver, Wilkinson goes in depth into the intersecting issues at play, allowing for a great deal of nuance in his discussion. Vancouver: No Fixed Address is capable of hitting nearly every issue possible, from every angle. The film offers discussions on foreign ownership, and reactions to multiculturalism and immigration, while we also hear of the rise in homelessness, the theft of land from First Nations populations, and the impossibility to even hope for a home within a city with such high real estate prices. Wilkinson makes space as well for opposing perspectives: a man whose biggest concern is that he can no longer relate to neighbours who are Chinese is just juxtaposed with fairly well-off young adults whose objections to the housing market are based around a preference to not live in a condo.

Vancouver: No Fixed Address relies on an overly conventional style. Intent on hitting every issue, the film feels dizzy, jumping from topic to topic in an unbalanced, disconnected way. The film ends with a group of musicians playing on the street, their music set to fireworks over the Vancouver skyline, while voice-over narration speaks of the power of staying somewhere. Embarrassing and unimpressive, the film attempts clichéd emotional manipulation through music and platitudes, both of which undermine the film’s pressing political issues through broad sentimentality. Ending on a hopeful note sours an already boring film through condescension and simplicity. Perhaps more than any other film, Vancouver: No Fixed Address is disappointing because of how urgent the issues it conveys are: one wants them to be given their due, which is never done in this documentary.

Vancouver: No Fixed Address screens:
-Thursday, May 4 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 8:45 PM
-Friday, May 4 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 12:45 PM

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