Tag Archives: Karine Vanasse

Cardinal: Introducing “John Cardinal”

At last, the long-anticipated Cardinal has arrived. The screenplay adapted by Aubrey Nealon (Orphan Black, Saving Hope), from the Giles Blunt bestseller and award-winning novel Forty Words for Sorrow, nicely captures the aura of the novel. This has the feel of a full-length feature film rather than a TV series. CTV knows it is competing with other cable productions, they took a chance, and they delivered with Cardinal; a captivating, gritty experience for its viewers.

Filmed in Sudbury, Ont., Cardinal is set during a Canadian winter, albeit without the grimy, roadside snow banks. We are frequently reminded of the deafening quiet quality of a snowy Canadian winter, and in winter, we pause, with shortened days, and colder nights.  The pace we set is slower, and Cardinal does that too. And it broods, which is, of course, suitable for a story about a serial killer, but it is also characteristic of our eponymous lead character. There is a great deal of internal dialogue provided by both the setting and Billy Campbell, most recently of Helix. But there are no gaps to fill in dialogue despite the many prolonged silences.

The cold open features the discovery of a body and a case which sets off an investigation that will span six episodes. A local fisherman makes the grisly discovery of an ice-encased body of a child at the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft.

Then we are introduced to Detective John Cardinal as he conducts surveillance at the local big box electronics store. His new partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse) steps in to notify him that Sergeant Noelle Dyson (Kristen Thomson) wants Cardinal back in Homicide. Without yet knowing the identity of the child, Dyson suspects this may be the same case that nearly destroyed Cardinal’s career.

We head out to the crime scene in the middle of a frozen lake. The wide shot aerial footage here is really breathtaking. I am from the extreme southwestern tip of Ontario and I am not a huge fan of winter. I have never actually seen a vehicle drive on ice, or even ice huts out on a lake. It just doesn’t get that cold here for that long. I’m sure viewers not familiar with this type of cold were equally captivated by these scenes. Those who are familiar, will no doubt very quickly locate themselves into the story. At any rate, once Cardinal arrives on the scene he establishes his authority. He efficiently demotes the first to scene OPP foot patrol, and literally “de-boots” him for contaminating the crime scene.

The crane lifts the remains from the shaft; a lingering shot of the body, showing signs of animal activity, and we cannot turn our gaze. Special effects do not spare on the gore factor here. After forensics does a preliminary examination, of which we are thankfully spared, the Katie Pine file is reclassified from missing person to murder. With the discovery of her body, Cardinal’s early suspicions of abduction and murder are confirmed. We are told by Forensics there is evidence of ligature marks on her wrists and legs, and abrasions to her remaining eye socket. Katie Pine was forcibly restrained and the killer made use of a speculum to force her eyes open. The killer made her watch him.

Not trusting his new partner, Cardinal assigns Delorme all of his outstanding B&E cases to follow up on. Will these cases provide any clues relevant to the Katie Pine case? I think it is safe to assume so, otherwise, why write them in? Additionally, Delorme may have reason to distrust Cardinal; seems the detective has a little stash of something. Drugs? Intel? Cardinal makes a drop in the dead of night to “Francis” (Lawrence Bayne) for cash.

Delorme begins to earn Cardinal’s respect, albeit begrudgingly, and he shares his theory of a repeat killer. Cardinal believes the drowning of another child, Billy LaBelle, labelled accidental, was anything but. Lise, and it turns out the entire department, are all highly sceptical of Cardinal’s theory. However, after a thorough survey of unsolved missing person cases spanning the last two years, Cardinal’s theory pans out with the discovery of another body in an abandoned home, that of missing person Todd Curry. This confirmation sets us up for the remaining episodes. If there is a serial killer, there must be another victim!

In the closing scenes, Delorme asks the question that founds a secondary storyline: “Did he?” Did John Cardinal take money in exchange for information from Sudbury crime lord Kyle Corbett? We know his artistic wife, Catherine (Deborah Day, most recently from a guest appearance on CBC’s Four in the Morning) has been institutionalised for depression, but what other burdens are torturing Cardinal? Has he compromised himself? Delorme, it seems, is under the direction of RCMP Corporal Musgrave (David Richmond Peck) along with Detective Hansen (Kevin Louis) to investigate Cardinal.

So far, Cardinal is following the novel Forty Words for Sorrow, but thankfully, leaving out the inherent weaknesses I found when I read it. I found the book predictable. I will tell you why later should future episodes follow the same pattern. However, if Episode 1 is any indication, this may be the rare case that the book translates better to film than it appeared in the text.

Billy Campbell was the perfect choice for the role of John Cardinal. He captures that quiet brooding that this character emotes. Campbell must demonstrate this early on. In the scene in the squad room he shares with Delorme and McLeod, Cardinal hears the details of Katie Pines forensic report. As the camera slowly closes in, we can read everything Cardinal/Campbell is thinking in this long silence. Any dialogue in this scene would have been redundant; Campbell’s eyes told us everything we needed to know.

A couple noteworthy changes, from the original text: Delorme is not from Special Investigations, but rather transfers from the Financial Crimes Unit and Sergeant Adonis Dyson has been re-imagined as Sergent Noelle Dyson. We’ll wait to see how or if these changes play out in some significant way in upcoming episodes.

A very solid start to what I would call an atmospheric crime drama, and I look forward to how this will all play out! Other than Fargo the movie and the series, and the first season of Campbell’s earlier series Helix, I don’t think the use of winter has been used quite so effectively to drive a storyline. The Canadian winter is a character unto itself.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

Cardinal airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

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John Cardinal leaps from the page to TV in CTV’s excellent, atmospheric Cardinal

On paper, Detective John Cardinal is a man of few words. The central figure in Giles Blunt’s Cardinal book series prefers to keep his thoughts on investigations in his head, much to the dismay of his co-workers and partner, Lise Delorme. The fact Cardinal isn’t one to share his intuitions was a challenge actor Billy Campbell embraced.

“I love that kind of stuff, particularly because I have fewer lines to learn,” Campbell says with a laugh. “No, it’s this kind of brooding thing. [Director] Podz and I were talking [before production began] and he said, ‘If you could give one adjective to describe Cardinal, what would it be?’ I said, ‘tortured.’ And he said, ‘Exactly!’ And a lot of that is internal. I like all that stuff that’s between the lines and you don’t see or get a lot of that on television.”

Impressive in scope, beautifully filmed and impeccably cast, CTV’s six-part serialized drama Cardinal—debuting Wednesday on CTV and Thursday on Super Écran—breathes life to Blunt’s first Cardinal novel, Forty Words for Sorrow. Filmed in and around Sudbury, North Bay, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek in Northern Ontario and Toronto, the project stars Campbell as Blunt’s tortured hero, who is called upon to track down the killer of 13-year-old Katie Pine. His partner is Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), a recent transfer and someone Cardinal doesn’t trust. Additional cast includes Brendan Fletcher as Eric Fraser and Allie MacDonald as Edie Soames, a young couple in town; Deborah Hay as Cardinal’s wife Catherine; Glen Gould as officer Jerry Commanda; Kristen Thomson as Sergeant Noelle Dyson, Cardinal’s commanding officer; David Richmond Peck as Corporal Musgrave, an officer in charge of a tightly guarded investigation; Alanna Bale as Cardinal’s daughter Kelly; and Robert Naylor as Keith.

What executive producer and showrunner Aubrey Nealon (Orphan Black) and Podz (19-2) have done is successfully translate an atmospheric novel to the screen. You can feel the fear gripping the snowy community of Algonquin Bay after Katie’s body is found. Did a drifter commit the crime or someone in town? A washed-out colour palette, cold temperatures and chilling examination of the body all contribute to a feeling of dread, something that came off the page in waves.

“Giles was a big part of the project early on, and then he handed it off,” Nealon says during a break in filming. “As a fan of the novel, I respect his writing so much and wanted to be true to the novel while trying to find my own voice in it.” Some parts of Forty Words for Sorrow didn’t make it to the television series and other content was added. Nealon explains Cardinal’s internal monologue was vocalized through adding new characters and activating past cases referenced in the book and making them part of the current storyline.

“This is so different from writing Orphan Black because these characters were fleshed out and living and breathing [in the novels],” Nealon says. “I wanted to explore Delorme’s personal life a little bit more than happened in the books.” When it came to casting the lead role, Nealon was looking for someone with warmth and humanity that draws viewers in while also presenting a troubled side to him. They got it with Campbell. Pair that with Vanasse’s Delorme, a young, eager cop full of good intention, and the duo simply crackles on-screen.

“Lise made some choices in the past that were safer for her,” Vanasse says. “She is finding in this new role that this is something that she’s always wanted to do. The closer that she gets to Cardinal, working on the case, he moves her. She recognizes how invested he is in the case and follows her instincts more and more.”

Cardinal airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET beginning Jan. 26 on Super Écran.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Photo gallery: First look at CTV’s Cardinal

At long last, Cardinal has got a debut date. And some pretty kick-ass images too. CTV announced Season 1 of the drama starring Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse debuts Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the network.

Based on the Giles Blunt’s award-winning novel, Forty Words for Sorrow, the cast also includes Brendan Fletcher as Eric Fraser; Allie MacDonald as Edie Soames; Deborah Hay as Cardinal’s wife, Catherine; Glen Gould as fellow officer Jerry Commanda; Kristen Thomson as Sergeant Noelle Dyson, Cardinal’s commanding officer; David Richmond Peck as Corporal Musgrave, an officer in charge of a tightly guarded investigation; Alanna Bale as Cardinal’s daughter Kelly; and Robert Naylor as Keith.

Take a look at the gorgeous photos and let us know what you think!

 

Season 1 of Cardinal debuts Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

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