CIFF 2013: Common Chord

An absent dad and aspiring musician is thrust into full-time fatherhood when his ex-girlfriend dies in this dramatic film shot on location in Lethbridge using local talent.

Canadian drama about absent dad thrust into full-time fatherhood when his ex-girlfriend dies

Kyle Foster, played by Jason Cernak, must choose between his daughter and his fledgling music career. (Common Chord / YouTube )

It happens. Couples too young to start a family get pregnant.

The couple breaks up and usually, though not always, the mom assumes sole parenting duties. 

That happens in this film but the mother dies, and young daughter Teigan goes to live with her widowed grandfather. But then? Her estranged father shows up.

The dad, Kyle, is a young and handsome singer-songwriter on the lounge circuit. He wants back into his daughter’s life. But the grandpa feels he is unworthy. Besides, Kyle is tempted by the West Coast music scene, where he may be able to break into the business.

However, Kyle seems strangely unmotivated to record a demo. Has he begun to realize his destiny is parenting, not crooning?


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The father, the grandfather and the social worker deliver solid enough acting with few false notes. But the film is dramatically weak due to the filmmakers’ collective inability to actually dramatize what’s going on. Scenes with the daughter should be heartbreaking: she has lost her mom, and her father and grandpa are fighting. 

The kid should be a mess, but she swings on swing sets looking relatively OK through most of the film, if a tad down.

Custody battles are tempestuous in real life but this film overall is very quiet start to finish, with no silent, emotional undertow to compensate. Plus, we should get a little more information about Kyle’s music than we do, especially if it’s supposed to be one of the things potentially compromising his daughter’s well-being.

Film Buzz

Common Chord was shot on location in Lethbridge, Alta., using all local talent.

Is it the lifestyle that draws him? His raw potential? A muse? Angsty hurting music is what the situation calls for, not Kyle's sleepy melodies reminiscent of Bryan Adams’ Spanish phase in the 1990s. I'm not sure the screenplay writers know music and perhaps just saw the profession as a convenient plot device.  

Add in an ending where a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly solved and writing emerges as the main problem in Common Chord. 

See it or not 

Not. Because the writers and directors fail to find a way to make us care or even feel much about this musician’s choice between parenting and a music career, the film ends up a slog. 

About the Author

Mario Trono

Calgary Eyeopener movie reviewer

Mario Trono, a confessed visual culture addict, is a film and art reviewer obsessed with finding interesting things to look at and tell people about. He daylights as a film professor at Mount Royal University. You can follow him on Twitter at @MarioTrono and hear his DVD reviews Friday at 6:50 a.m. MT on the Calgary Eyeopener.


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