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TIFF review roundup: 'Defendor'

September 15, 2009 |  9:33 am


Actor-turned-director Peter Stebbing's "Defendor," which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, is the kind of picture that tends to bring out the sympathetic side in critics (yes, they have one) -- a doggedly determined indie with an eclectic outlook that will, most likely, keep it from achieving a wide audience.

"Defendor," with its story of an oddball (Woody Harrelson) who dons a makeshift costume to fight crime, is just such a film, and the reviews have been, as expected, kind, though honest in their expectations. Variety dubs it "modest but likable" but predicts "eyeblink theatrical play." Twitch expends a few more words in its defense, especially in favor of Stebbings and Harrelson, whose performance is "strong enough that [the film's] flaws are easy to forgive." Eye Weekly is effusive in its praise for the "dark street fantasy," which, "despite its efforts to be as brazenly naive as its hero, is just as gold-hearted." No word on a pickup for theatrical release, but here's hoping. BTW, a few online sources have cited "Defendor's" similarity to another hapless (and underrated) superhero comedy, 2007's "Special," with Michael Rappaport. It's available on DVD from Magnolia Pictures, and worth a look.

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Alliance Films