I’m aware of the significance of a movie like Kayak to Klemtu, which centres itself around a First Nations teenager. 14-year-old Ella (Ta’Kaiya Blaney) has goals. She’s setting out on her own, in a way, taking her own nation back by exploring its natural wonders.
But Ella’s determination also means that she’s stubborn. Her goal is to travel the length of the Inside Passage in British Columbia using a kayak. Just like she and her recently passed activist uncle Dave (Evan Adams) planned to do.
Now that Dave has gone, she wants to embark on her journey to spread his ashes along the coast. And that involves lying to her mother Maureen (Sarah Kelley) about it. Or being mad at her aunt Cory (Sonja Bennett), one of her chaperones. And that’s because the latter drops Dave’s ashes along the way.
In a way, she’s just like every teenager. The film has a Tokyo Story dynamic. Ella is a young person lionizing an older person that has passed. Cory, then, represents an older group that the younger group sees through a bad lens. Cory, however, has a better insight on her generation than Ella does.
As well carved as Ella’s character is, the supporting ones need more dimension. Dave is a sage that returns to Ella through flashbacks. Cory is a white woman who somehow find herself in food related gags.
There are a few more characters who only get to do one or two things despite having enough screen time. Lorne Cardinal plays Ella’s other businessman uncle Don and all he does is be grumpy. With grumpy comes mopey, or cousin Alex (Jared Ager-Foster), whose nervous breakdown serves as one way to delay the trip.
This isn’t the best debut for director Zoe Hopkins but I see potential in her style.