Mental illness stretches a loving family to the breaking point in this independent drama. Chris Marino (Devon Gearhart) is a ten-year-old boy growing up in a small oceanside community in Florida. Chris's father John (Joe Pantoliano) is a construction worker who is struggling to hold the family together under difficult circumstances -- his wife and Chris' mother, Mary (Marcia Gay Harden), has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and while they've been pursuing a variety of treatment options, Mary's condition continues to slowly deteriorate as she hears phantom sounds, has hallucinations, and becomes increasingly paranoid. While Joe tries to explain Mary's disease to Chris, her actions have turned her into an increasingly frightening and embarrassing stranger to her son, and Mary is clearly aware of the toll her condition has taken on the family but cannot help herself. After a violent incident results in a call from the police, Mary enters a mental hospital, and as Joe begins to buckle under the pressure of his circumstances, he quits his job and devotes all his spare time to building a sailboat, a project that reminds him of better days for Mary and himself. Canvas was the first feature film from writer and director Joseph Greco, who drew inspiration from the story of his mother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was growing up.
by Mark Deming synopsis