Elaine Mitropoulos

Renowned for giving a voice to alienated 20-somethings, Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture, has made the leap from novels to the big screen.

Directed by Toronto native Paul Fox, Everything’s Gone Green is a coming-of-age story about a slacker approaching the dreaded age of 30. Paulo Costanzo (Joey) plays Ryan, who, unlike conventional heroes, is void of authentic suffering, admirable dreams or redeeming qualities. Costanzo is joined on the screen by Steph Song and JR Bourne in a dry comedy that follows Ryan on an ethical journey, transforming him from a loser to, well, a loser who ultimately gets the girl.

“Instead of a film about ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ it’s about ‘Who do I want to be.’” Fox explains over the phone from L.A., where he's contemplating new projects.

“Ryan sees people around him choosing various paths, ethical and not so ethical. Yes, he would like to be successful and make money but at what personal cost?”

It was Coupland's take on the traditional coming-of-age story that initially attracted Fox to the screenplay.

“I liked that in Coupland’s script there was a darker side. You don’t see that in a lot of contemporary comedies,” says Fox, who cites Billy Wilder and Woody Allen as comedic inspirations. “I wasn’t really interested in making American Pie or Dude, Where’s My Car?”

Working with the author in the making of the film was equally as gratifying, Fox says. “Once he handed the script to the filmmaker, he was really quite content to just sit back and watch it being made,” he recalls. “He would wander around the set, smile and say it looked just the way he imagined it, which was always a good vote of confidence.”

Set in Vancouver, Everything's Gone Green has been called a “love letter” to Coupland’s hometown, a city that rarely plays itself on the big screen and one that locals often wander through like extras on a filmset.

“The city mirror’s Ryan’s journey in that Vancouver is portrayed as having its own identity crisis,” Fox explains. “Is it an American city in a Hollywood movie?”

As homage to his hometown, the movie features a slew of landmarks and clichés particular to the characteristics of Vancouver. West-coast paraphernalia, like random totem poles, all-u-can-eat pocky, snowboards and grow-ops are scattered throughout the film as not-so-gentle but humorous reminders of the film’s setting. 

The movie's visual comedy clearly draws from Coupland’s pop-art sensibilities, but with a twist of directorship from Fox. Low angle shots, says Fox, were key to keeping the film's characters viewed in conjunction with their environment.

“There’s very much a sense in the film of Vancouver as a character. To be able to use the city’s identity crisis to mirror what Ryan’s going through, it made sense to try to make sure the landscape, whether it’s inside Ryan’s apartment or outside in the mountains, became a sort of secondary character.”

How does Fox think audiences south of the border will receive the Vancouver-oriented movie? “I think they’ll be fine with it,” he assures. “I screened it to a class of students at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where I went to school, and they seemed to really like it.”

There’s a universality to Ryan’s story that Fox believes appeals to all audiences. “We all come to this crossroad where we have to figure out which foot we want to put forward,” he says. “Who do I want to be and can I live with that at night?”

And of course, there’s the uniqueness to the locale the film is set and shot in that is likely to attract foreign audiences. “As Canadians, we’re sort of gun-shy about showing our cities in all their glory,” Fox says.

“When you think of films like Wings of Desire that really shows Berlin, or Woody Allen films showing off Manhattan, I think people are always interested in seeing stories set in other parts of the world.”