Schultz’s 45 RPM stuck in a rut

Touching story is buried beneath poor storytelling and stunted dialogue

“I ain’t afraid of no Russian bomber; it’s the folks of Goose Lake you’ve got to watch out for” Sally “Luke” Lucas (Justine Banszky) tells her friend and sometime rival Debbie Baxter (MacKenzie Porter) as they walk down a dirt road in 1960 rural Saskatchewan in Dave Schultz’s 45 RPM . While it’s eventually revealed why Sally the gender-bending tomboy feels this way about the citizens of her hometown it’s preceded by an hour of similarly numbing stunted expository dialogue.

Throughout the film Sally and her best friend Parry (Jordan Gavaris) talk at great unbelievable lengths about how they don’t belong in Goose Lake a two-bit middle-of-nowhere that only exists as a stopover on a NORAD shipment route. “I’ll dry up and blow away if you leave me on my own” Sally deadpans. “Have you any idea what they say about us?” she asks Parry who is twice described as the Huckleberry Finn of Goose Lake in case anyone missed it the first time.

Obviously writer-director Schultz wants audiences to understand that the two teenage heroes feel like outcasts alienated from their community. He goes out of his way to tell this to viewers at every opportunity. Tragically he neglects to show any reason for his leads’ angst until much too late. When audiences are finally privy to a palpable example of the people of Goose Lake’s indecency towards the two youths the pathos 45 RPM tries to build has been long lost thanks to forced ham-fisted storytelling.

It’s a shame too because the story Schultz tells could be a good one. Teenage disillusionment is easily relatable territory and having rock ’n’ roll literally playing the roll of the potential saviour is a nice wrinkle. Through an unexplained coincidence Parry and Sally pick up the signal to a radio station from New York that is offering two tickets to the Big Apple to the lucky youth who can successfully identify 30 one-second snippets of popular songs — is a nice wrinkle. Schultz even displays skill behind the camera capturing the remote loneliness of his setting and receives strong performances from Gavaris as well as Michael Madsen as Debbie’s father but the clumsiness of the script overshadows any of the films merits.

“[Parry’s] probably shot and buried in a hole. That’s the price for being different around here” Sally tells Debbie right before detailing her lack of fear of Russian bombs in comparison to her townsfolk. For all audiences know Sally could well be right but they are given little reason to believe her beyond tenacious repetition and are given equally little reason to care about 45 RPM .