Guitar Lessons

Still from "Guitar Lessons": Leland walks down a railroad track

Leland inher­its a gui­tar from his “uncle[1]More like­ly his dad.”. Ray—once a tour­ing musi­cian, now a suc­cess­ful oil­man[2]He’s the type who would bris­tle at the sug­ges­tion he’s an “oilper­son”.—gets a call from a for­mer band­mate, let­ting him know their deceased friend left his gui­tar to some kid in his area (“and you might want to check in on it before it turns into firewood”).

Kind of like Viking last week, this one’s a Cana­di­an com­e­dy that becomes less fun­ny in the sec­ond half. Where Viking went a lit­tle dark, though, Gui­tar Lessons delves deep into the char­ac­ters’ flaws, and shows us how they try to fix them­selves. There’s a deep lake of dra­ma under the sur­face laughs. This film has things to say about fatherhood—biological and adoptive—addiction, grow­ing up (for both teens and 50-year-olds), priv­i­lege and wealth, rela­tion­ships, and life in oil coun­try. It’s also beau­ti­ful­ly filmed: med­i­ta­tive in its fram­ing. There’s a long sequence of Ray clean­ing, repair­ing, and pol­ish­ing his old friend’s gui­tar, word­less. The shots of the coun­try­side and the towns through­out are love­ly, too.

I quite enjoyed it.


1 More like­ly his dad.
2 He’s the type who would bris­tle at the sug­ges­tion he’s an “oilper­son”.