Reel Toronto: Robert De Niro in Godsend
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Reel Toronto: Robert De Niro in Godsend

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

Sometimes you have to hang your head in shame and admit you were wrong. When we featured Stanley & Iris last month we were correctly upbraided for mistakenly thinking its local shoot was the only time the great Robert De Niro came to town to film a movie. In fact, he was also here for 2004’s Godsend. How could anyone forget Godsend?

After all, it stars fellow Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear, as well as the rather attractive Rebecca Romijn (both of whom spent time here on other occasions, while filming A Flash of Genius and X-Men, respectively). And, let’s see here…yes, Godsend earned the respect of a staggering 4% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes, putting it firmly in the same class as Mariah Carey’s godawful Glitter. And Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

(Note: We’ve never done the math, but one day we should assess the scientifically calculated average RT Rating for Toronto movies. We suspect it’s around 35%, max.)

Sometimes it takes a lot of digging and re-watching to find film locations, but this one was pretty easy—a good thing given its level of quality.

While the credits are still rolling, Greg Kinnear gets mugged in this alley…

…which is actually St. Enoch’s Square, right near Massey Hall.

The problems start when Romijn and son go shopping on Front Street. We pan down from this shot…

…to find them walking through Berczy Park a few minutes before the kid gets hit by a runaway car. You can’t miss the St. Lawrence Centre on the left, there.

Then they go shopping at this store, on Front Street, which seems now to be a Winners.

After the kid’s untimely passing, he’s buried at the St. James Cemetery

…and this church is actually St. Matthias, down on Bellwoods.

Enter De Niro, slumming as some kind of scientist who offers to clone the couple’s dead kid. Except he’s messing with science so the kid ends up with supernatural powers and shit gets real, yo. First, he takes them out for a lovely meal at The Senator.

The interior…

…and exterior of De Niro’s snazzy hospital, The Godsend Institute…

…is actually the Kingsbridge Conference Centre, out in King City.

Here’s Romijn out for a stroll in Forest Hill Village

…where she ducks into this framing store on Spadina, which is actually Framed by Izzy. The magic of Hollywood!

Eventually the family moves out to live in “Vermont.” This lakefront house…

…which you can see a bit better here, is actually on Lake Simcoe, at Roche’s Point.

Kinnear is a teacher and the school scenes were shot at Loretto Abbey.

Late in the movie, he heads into the, city which is supposed to be Boston. You buying?

He drives along the lakeshore industrial district…

…pulls up outside Metro Hall…

…and visits this police station, which is actually the Ontario Heritage Trust building, on Adelaide.

This more working-class-looking area is actually Howland Avenue, below Dupont.

This cozy domicile has since been replaced with something fancier.

We’re happy to have you back any time, Mr. De Niro. But let’s aim a little higher, perhaps?