The product of an emotionally wounded family, eight-year-old Garnetís (Colin Roberts) only reference points for a happy, functional life exist in the natural environment of his small British Columbia town. Garnetís mother died giving birth to him, so he grows up eating his morning breakfast amid the tabletop clutter of his father Edís empty beer bottles. Ed (Callum Keith Rennie) goes through the motions of living; still saddened and filled with rage over his wifeís death, he is distant and rarely speaks, least of all to his children. Flower (Jan McGregor), a pretty, warm-hearted sixteen-year-old, has assumed the mothering role, but the demands of caring for her brother have begun to weigh upon her.
The sudden news of Flowerís pregnancy splits the family apart and she decides to pack up and leave home. Ed, who connects with Garnet only by twisting the boyís fascination with life into a morbid detachment, buys his son a BB gun as a birthday gift. But this gesture, which eerily mirrors Edís depressed state, only pushes the troubled Garnet further toward the edge. Left to his own devices, Garnet begins to unravel, growing aberrant and violent. Soon, Ed must decide whether to face this new suffering that his years of silence have sown.
This auspicious first feature, a beautiful meditation on emotional isolation and the wonder of life, rests soundly on the finely wrought performances of its three principal actors and on director Keith Behrmanís keen eye for capturing the cracks in peopleís emotional armour. Flower & Garnetís honesty and simplicity can be attributed to Behrmanís assured script and clean direction, to cinematographer Steve Cosenís stark images of landscapes and small connecting details, and to the honest performances and beautifully observed moments that astutely capture the impact of isolation and neglect on a young boy.
The film was very well received upon its Canadian release. It notched three Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Canadian Film, Best Director of a Canadian Film (Behrman) and Best Actor in a Canadian Film (Callum Keith Rennie); Behrman also received the Claude Jutra Award for Direction of a First Feature Film at the Genie Awards. Flower & Garnet was named one of Canadaís Top Ten of 2002 by a national panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals.