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Root of the Problem

USA 2019
produced by
Carolyn McMaster, Margot McMaster for Chaos, a Film Company
directed by Scott Corban Sikma
starring Sergio Di Zio, Claire Rankin, Jayson Therrien, Pete Seadon, Chantal Perron, Leslie Benn, Ty Loupelle, Dawn Nagazina, Anna-Marie Frances Lea, Jim Walsh, Stephane Legault, Dwight Layne, D'Arcy Browning, Wrama Willis, Stacey Da Silva, Shawna Pliva McGill, Denny Wiens
written by Francis Damberger, Joanne Sikma, music by Beau Shiminsky

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Paul (Sergio Di Zio) lives a reasonably happy life, he has a wife who loves him, Grace (Claire Rankin), two nice kids, Kari (Leslie Benn) and Landon (Ty Loupelle), a nice job, and he's pretty good at his job as a realtor, even if it's not likely to make him rich, no matter how hard he works. And there's the problem, being the sole provider of the family, the money just seems to be constantly short, no matter how hard Paul works ... and then Grace's rich uncle who loved her very much dies, and Paul's looking forward to a nice inheritance - but all the uncle has left them is a potted plant. This leaves Paul sort of shattered, not so much out of greed itself but he had hoped for some financial relief. But then he discovers the plant actually grows Dollar bills - and at first he grows a bit paranoid about it, and doesn't even tell his own family about it. But gradually he starts to enjoy the money and buys himself all kinds of luxury objects, culminating in a new Porsche. Now Grace doesn't like the new Paul who just spends and spends money without taking his family into consideration (that said, she of course doesn't know about the money tree, and Paul doesn't tell her), so that leads them to the brink of breaking up. Not knowing what to do, Paul turns to the local pastor (Pete Seadon) for advice, and the pastor tells him to try and do good with his wealth - so Paul makes a big donation to the church, gives half a fortune to a homeless person ... and eventually lands not only himself but also the pastor and the hobo in prison. But the pastor advises it's never too late to do the right thing, and if he succeeds everything else will resolve itself. But that's easier said than done because Paul had made plenty of mistakes even before he came in touch with the money tree ...

 

Sure, the message of Root of the Problem is a bit too obvious - and pretty much hidden in the title already - and some of the means to get it across are as heavy handed as they're formulaic, but that aside, the film really does a good job to tell its story light-footedly as the script just flows beautifully, both from a narrative and a cinematic point of view, and all the characters are actually well-fleshed out and nicely brought to life by a solid ensemble cast, with extra praise going to Sergio Di Zio who plays the lead character with just the right amount of both arrogance and vulnerability to make him utterly relatable despite of his flaws.

 

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