The writer/director, Marshall Lewy, describes the film as a romantic comedy road movie like Sideways. “But instead of wine, the backdrop is politics.” Lewy’s a New York native who lives in L.A., and like the main character in Blue State, campaigned for Kerry in Ohio. He had lots of friends who talked and joked about moving to Canada, but found that nobody actually went through with it. Still, the movie will strike a chord — after all, Citizenship and Immigration Canada did see a spike in the number of visitors to its website around the time of the election. And while there’s no way to assess motivations, there was a 22 per cent increase in immigration applications from U.S. residents in 2004 — compared to only a five per cent increase in 2003.
While Blue State touches on some major differences between the U.S. and Canada — universal health care, gay marriage, relaxed pot laws, tougher gun laws — Lewy says, “I tried not to go where movies like Canadian Bacon or South Park had already gone. I tried not to go for those familiar Canadian jokes or issues.” He chose Winnipeg, without having ever visited, thinking it was “the equivalent of a Midwestern American city, a cross between Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.” He was surprised to find that his producers, the Paquins, had lived there as kids. Andrew took Lewy to Winnipeg for research, where they discovered the left-leaning neighbourhood of Wolseley and other Canadian elements that made it into the movie: the corner of Portage and Main, Tim Hortons, and the Granite Curling Club. “I think it was originally going to be an ice hockey rink,” says Anna, “but that was a little too obvious. We thought curling was more Canada-specific and a little funnier to the imported Americans who must think, ‘Okay, this is some completely random sport.’ “
Alas, the story does not address whether the film will address the irony I alluded to in my earlier post — namely, the fact that Canada elected its first Conservative government in 13 years shortly after the Bush re-election. It’s a question that would have been perfect for the increasingly right-leaning Maclean’s.