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There may be only a limited number of basic stories, but there is an infinite number of ways to tell them. With Endings, his second feature film, independent writer-director Chris Hansen has found a new way to tell a story about dying.

His story actually has three characters approaching death. Chris (Matthew Brumlow) is a 35-year-old who has done nothing with his life other than commit petty crimes to nurse his heroin habit. Convinced that he will never be able to break his addiction and distraught at the grief he has brought to his family, he decides to go out with one last overdose. All he has to do is find a way to pay for it.

Adonna (Ellen Dolan) is a housewife who has been hiding the fact that she has cancer from her family. Rather than put them through an extended and costly medical procedures, she plans to kill herself after making sure all of her loose ends are sewn up.

Emmy (Emma Hansen) is a 10-year-old suffering from a rare form of leukemia. Convinced that today is her last day, she escapes from the clutches of her overly protective father to fill her own last wish, a visit to her mother.

How these three meet up is structural trick (with a neat bit of viewer misdirection) that takes up the first two-thirds of the film, giving each character his or her own tonally distinctive backstory. And if the film seems to start to falter in the last section, as the three meet and pool their resources, it still ends up going somewhere you don’t quite expect. Hansen gets strong performances from his unknown cast (especially his daughter, proving that nepotism isn’t always a bad thing), and directs confidently and cleanly. The music and a few weak supporting performances are the only strikes against this, but for an indie film that probably had a minimal budget, that’s to be expected. Endings will be playing for two weeks at Screens, formerly HD Video Café, in Williamsville. Call 688-4933 for showtimes.

Watch the trailer for Endings

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