Genevieve Dulude-De Celles’ A Colony is about Mylia (Emilie Bierre). Because she’s from rural Quebec, she isn’t the most fashionable girl in her high school. Despite that, she eventually flies into the radar of two of her classmates. The first is her cousin’s friend Jacinte (Cassandra Gosselin Pelletier). Jacinthe befriends her because she needs help on history class. The second is Jimmy (Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie), an Abenaki boy who is ambivalent about his culture.
A Colony is a high school movie, belonging to a genre with its own expectations, but what’s fascinating about this is Mylia’s female gaze. The scenes with her and Jacinthe have a homo social air. We see her react towards a friendly fellow Quebecois who immerses herself with pop culture. Her friendship with Jimmy, on the other hand, is more intellectual and dialogue based. Bierre is outstanding as she portrays her character’s close interactions.
This movie is also a realist one about a girl slowly more focusing on her high school life to avoid family drama. It also downplays pop culture’s role in a teenager’s life, which other movies would overplay. We still get scenes of, say, Mylia dancing in front of a mirror, trying to copy what Jacinthe would do in a house party situation. It sometimes feels like it falls on the trap of showing Anglo youth culture’s perceived vapidity.
There is, nonetheless, a heartfelt tone here, especially when Mylia finally deals with a family that may or may not be slipping away from her. There are also political undertones in depicting these tenuous personal relationships, using symbolism with subtlety. Mylia must grow up and the people around her do the same. A film about a high school freshman growing up might be one that has low stakes. But it’s one that’s worth watching.
- Release Date: 4/19/2019