The Big White
|The Big White|
Promotional poster for The Big White
|Directed by||Mark Mylod|
|Produced by||Michael Birnbaum
|Written by||Collin Friesen|
|Edited by||Julie Monroe|
|Distributed by||Momentum Pictures (UK theatrical)|
|Release dates||December 3, 2005|
|Running time||105 min.|
A body left in a dumpster by Mafia hitmen is discovered by financially troubled travel agent Paul Barnell (Robin Williams). Heavily in debt and attempting to find a cure for his wife's apparent Tourette Syndrome, he stages a disfiguring animal attack with the body in order to cash in his missing brother's life-insurance policy, for which a corpse is required.
Local police are convinced, but a promotion-hungry insurance agent (Giovanni Ribisi) is not. The Mafia hitmen are also in search of the corpse for proof to collect their payment. They take Paul's wife (Holly Hunter) hostage to ensure that they will get the body. Paul stays in his brother's cottage.
Paul's missing brother Raymond (Woody Harrelson) returns home, beats him, and demands a portion of the insurance money. By suggesting the insurance agent has assaulted him, Paul speeds up the delivery of the million dollar insurance payment. He has the body exhumed and agrees to exchange it and a portion of the money for his wife. In fear that Raymond will attempt to kill his wife to keep her quiet, Paul considers killing his brother in his sleep, but cannot bring himself to do so.
The next morning Paul leaves his brother asleep and meets the hit-men for the exchange. Raymond is angered at his brother's deception and arrives as well, and is told by the insurance agent, who has finally pieced together what has happened, about his million dollar policy.
Raymond then pulls out a pistol and shoots Paul's fleeing wife in the back. He is in turn shot in the stomach by one of the hit-men (Tim Nelson). Paul finds his wife alive, the insurance money he had hidden in his jacket his wife was wearing stopped the bullet. The brothers reflect on childhood memories as Raymond dies.
Using the money, Paul takes his wife on a flight to a tropical location, his love for his wife being the sole motivation for the whole situation.
According to one insider, it was Collin Friesen's script that "drew the talent needed to get the production off the ground." Production was based in Winnipeg, though it was filmed in the Yukon Territory; the film had a $1 million impact on the territory's economy, including the employment of 200 Yukoners. Most of the outdoor scenes and cinematography were shot at summit of the White Pass along the border of Alaska and British Columbia. The bulk of the film was shot in April, 2004.
In November 2005, Variety, after seeing the film at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles, called it "snowed under by misjudgment on every level", with "frigid" commercial prospects. In March 2006, David Mattin of the BBC gave it three stars out of five, saying the film "wants to be a cross between small-screen hits Northern Exposure and Frasier" but "can't resist the lure of cheap and obvious one-liners"; Mattin calls William's performance "typically slushy and ultimately likeable" and Ribisi's a performance that "really shines", but notes that the viewer is mostly subjected to "limp gags based on [Hunter]'s compulsive swearing, and Harrelson's cliché-ridden small-town hick stupidity."
In a podcast interview with Marc Maron in 2010, Robin Williams admitted that during filming, he broke 20 years of sobriety by drinking. This would lead to a stint in rehab in 2006.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2010)|
- Koehler, Robert (November 16, 2005). "The Big White (Canada-New Zealand)". Variety. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- "Canadians want movies that taste good". CBC. June 24, 2004. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- "Big White To Be Featured At Yukon International Film Festival". Press release. Yukon official government website. February 1, 2006. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- 'Action' Skagway! On the set of The Big White an April 23, 2004 article from The Skagway News
- "The Big White (2006)". BBC. 20 March 2006. Retrieved 2010-07-22.