Cory Monteith's memory will live on through his intense final performance in McCanick. The 31-year-old late Glee actor, who died from a heroin and alcohol overdose on July 13, stars in the Josh C. Waller-directed film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, Sept. 9. Monteith has a meaty role in the small, dark, dreary and slow-moving drama.
Monteith plays small-time drug dealer and hustler Simon Weeks, who had a tough-luck childhood and turned to working the streets. Monteith is first seen in a hoodie with stringy hair, talking tough and smoking a cigarette. It is a startling change from those used to seeing him sing and dance as Finn Hudson on Glee.
Simon is being relentlessly targeted by a grizzled, tortured detective, played by David Morse. It is unclear as to why the cop is obsessed with him, though he may possibly have been linked with a congressman's murder. Confusing flashbacks muddle the story further, and the only way to differentiate between past and present is by looking at the length of Monteith's hair.
Though Simon is hard-living, Monteith is inspired casting. The sweetness that endeared him to Glee fans still lurks within this character. And he uses it to his advantage during crucial plot twists. As troubled as he is, you are rooting for him to make it out alive. It's a fine, daring performance.
As fans now know, Monteith had a long history of substance abuse. He first entered rehab at the age of 19, and voluntarily admitted himself again in April 2013. Though he plays a drug dealer, Monteith is not shown doing drugs in McCanick.
"He was excited. He was very happy with it, with the work that he had done," director Josh C. Waller told Us Weekly of the late actor. "He seemed moved, emotionally. He sent me a really beautiful email [when the film wrapped] just stating how much excitement he had and how much pride he had on the work that he had done. Which I'm glad, because I know I thought he did an incredible job. Sometimes, for actors, it's hard to watch themselves on screen or to acknowledge when they've done a good job. He didn't come right out and say, 'I did great!' But he was very proud."
Monteith's other movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, All The Wrong Reasons, won the Discovery Award on Monday, Sept. 9. The Gia Milani-directed film also stars Kevin Zegers.