It’s always notable when you see a portrayal of your hometown or neighbourhood in media. As someone who grew up in Kerrisdale, the standard bearer for such a depiction remains Superbad. Filmed in L.A., the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg vehicle was of course based on their experiences at Point Grey Secondary.
Even though you couldn’t literally see Kerrisdale in that movie, as a kid who grew up there a few years after Rogen and Goldberg, you felt like you were there.
I didn’t have the same reaction when watching this “film” by Vancouver-based Gryphon Development in service of its latest venture, Gryphon House Kerrisdale.
It shouldn’t be a shock, I suppose, given Gryphon’s past attempts at marketing to the obscenely rich. Let’s have a watch together, shall we?
0:02 – We open on a bird’s eye view of a particularly ritzy area of Kerrisdale, with big houses and swimming pools down below. Intense, upbeat classical music (heavy on the strings) that sounds right out of the Succession soundtrack, hits our ears.
0:05 – A British man begins narrating, for some reason. “Here is a time-honoured way of life,” he says, while a young girl and her parents romp through Maple Grove Park.
0:09 – We immediately cut to a close crop of someone zipping up horse riding boots. They’re not doing this, are they? They can’t.
0:10 – They are. The woman in question buttons up her collar and the next shot we see is her walking a horse in full riding gear. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Kerrisdale is not Southlands. I do not care what the technical boundaries say.
0:13 – We cut back to the little girl in Maple Grove. She’s now throwing a dodgeball into nowhere. I will say, the filmmakers made a smart choice to have the scene here in the grassy area instead of the urine-rich pool you can see in the distance.
0:15 – We cut to two young boys in private school outfits. There are no boys’ private schools in Kerrisdale.
0:19 – The orchestral music swells up. We get another birds’ eye shot of the neighbourhood and a close-up of the 41st Avenue sign as the sun just glimmers through. Hitchcock would be proud.
0:21 – We’re back with the young girl, only now she’s in the shopping district. The next shot is predictably of Thomas Hobbs Florist, which begs the question of when the other nice storefront in Kerrisdale—Hills—is going to feature.
0:23 – The narrator spouses that “Kerrisdale is perhaps the finest example in the city” of being “elegantly removed from the hectic pace of downtown” and “intimately tied to all that Vancouver has to offer,” which is a hell of a thing to say when you’re talking about a neighbourhood that doesn’t have a beach or any cool bars.
0:28 – We get a man riding what the video makes sure we notice is a vintage bike through a tree-lined street as the narrator doubles down, insisting Kerrisdale is “long revered as one of the best neighbourhoods in Vancouver.” Uhhh...no?
0:32 – Two absolutely chuffed adults jaunt through that walkway near London Drugs where my friends and I used to smoke pot and hide while our older siblings got us alcohol at the BCL.
0:35 – The little girl is back in the park and she’s playing soccer with the dodgeball before the narrator continues his appalling stream of unabashed falsehoods, saying Kerrisdale is about to become one of the world’s best neighbourhoods. Is this grounds for a lawsuit?
0:38 – We get the obligatory shot of someone flipping through pages at Hager Books. And then one of someone placing flowers into a vase at Hobbs.
0:46 – There are random shots of someone painting something. And then the narrator finally gets to his point: “The Arbutus Greenway is one of the longest linear parks in the world.”
0:52 – “Across the globe, public promenades transform major cities,” says the narrator, and we get name checks of the Highline in New York, Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Avenue Montaigne in Paris and Mayfair and Chelsea in London. Seriously. The Big Five.
1:07 – Another bird’s eye shot, this time right down the Greenway, at an angle in which the neighbourhood looks almost incomprehensibly grey and boring even on the sunny day.
1:14 – The narrator suggests that the “prominent new boulevard parkway” will soon become a vibrant destination and the video’s budget really starts kicking in with random stock images of boys and girls in private school garb, flowers everywhere and buildings and cafes.
1:20 – The narrator insists there will be “art” along the Greenway and we are taken back to the mysterious painting which is a finished work of a development. Could it be Gryphon House Kerrisdale?!
1:22 – “This is the art of living well,” says the narrator as the picture does indeed turn into the Gryphon development. SO CLEVER YOU GUYS. (But next time buck up for Rodney Graham!)
1:29 – Now we’re in full-on sell mode: “A stately greenside manor poised along the most distinguished portion of the Greenway”—which might be the only time in history someone has referred to the area just north of 49th Avenue as distinguished. Hey, George's Pizza is decent, I suppose.
1:31 – I guess we’re done with the girl now?
1:33 – Yet another bird’s eye shot, this one doing everything it can to downplay the most recognizable landmark in the neighbourhood—the massive McDonald’s sign.
1:35 – “Gryphon House embodies the modern grandeur of this historic neighbourhood,” says the narrator. And the woman on the horse makes another appearance, trotting through Southlands again.
1:41 – We’re back in the shopping district as the narrator says “the exciting promise of its world-class future” and there it is, a shot of a well-dressed man leaving Hills.
1:45 – A shot of a golf course in Southlands again and a close-up of the West Boulevard sign and we’re almost there. “This is the evolution of Kerrisdale” says the narrator as the music softens from strings to piano to send us home.
1:53 – A well-dressed man with white gloves (!) opens the door of a car that looks like it belonged to William Randolph Hearst as the viewer steps out into what’s ostensibly Gryphon House, reminding you that you will never live here.
“It is the evolution of how we live.”