The High Cost Of Living

GO Zach Braff has employed his talents (quick wit and a flair for physical comedy) and tools (rubbery face, baleful eyes) in both TV comedy (the sly Scrubs) and indie film (the self-satisfied Garden State, which he wrote and directed). In writer-director Deborah Chow’s contemplative character study The High Cost of Living, he leans gracefully on his expressive features to portray Henry, a scruffy, low-level drug dealer of moderate charm who seeks redemption after causing tragedy to befall a pregnant woman and her husband. The film moves at a measured pace: Viewers watch Henry wrestle with the consequences of decisions that keep spiraling out to snare new victims while deepening the wounds of old ones. Chow works with a light but deft hand. It might be easy to miss the complexity in her depiction of myriad emotions and layered human nature, where victims are sometimes unlikable and “the bad guy” tugs at your heart even as his wrongs hang heavy in the air. The cast is uniformly good, but Isabelle Blais especially stands out as Natalie, a pregnant woman in a crumbling marriage, navigating grief, anger, betrayal and burgeoning love in a short, emotionally debilitating span of time.

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