Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘Billy & Molly: An Otter Love Story’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Movies by - May 05, 2024
Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘Billy & Molly: An Otter Love Story’

The person introducing Billy & Molly: An Otter Love Story at the Hot Docs Festival raised audience expectations when she said the film was ‘perfect.’  But after many laughs, and even more tears, I have to admit, she was right.

Billy & Molly is a story of love and friendship told with sincerity and humour.  Husband and wife, Billy and Susan take turns narrating as they share what happened when they moved back to his birthplace in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and happened upon a young, sickly otter whom they come to name Molly.  This little being, so full of personality, worked her way into their hearts and their family, much to the chagrin of their dog Jade, whose only wish is someone to play ball with her.

While tending to the otter’s immediate needs, Billy finds himself fulfilling the role of parent, and a hole in his heart starts to heal while Molly also grows stronger. The footage of the ever adorable Molly, whether in her tiny house or frolicking amongst the seaweed of the shoreline is stunning.  This remote area of the world provides an absolutely gorgeous setting, and director Charlie Hamilton-James captures its beauty in every frame.  If Billy and Molly’s story doesn’t bring a tear to your eye the sheer magnificence of nature will.

The nicest part about Billy & Molly is that, spoiler alert, nothing bad happens.  And knowing that allows you to fully immerse yourself in this film, which is truly about love in all its forms, whether it’s between two people, a man and an otter, or even a dog and her ball.  This documentary is simply charming and delightful.  It’s a peaceful meditation on nature and what can happen if you open your heart to its splendour.

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Hillary is a Toronto based writer, though her heart often lives in her former home of London, England. She has loved movies for as long as she can remember, though it was seeing Jurassic Park as a kid that really made it a passion. She has been writing about film since 2010 logging plenty of reviews and interviews since then, especially around festival season. She has previously covered the London Film Festival, TIFF (where she can often be found frantically running between venues) and most recently Sundance (from her couch). She is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. When she’s not watching films or writing about them, she can be found at her day job as a veterinarian. Critic and vet is an odd combination, but it sure is a great conversation starter at an interview or festival!
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