A few critics already wrote about the performances in The Maiden, which are good. But first, I’d like to talk about how it stays on some things while quickly editing with others, which it does for a mostly good effect. At one point, it shows The Maiden, which Kyle (Jackson Sluiter) uses to tag houses and the like. It switches those visuals to that of his best friend Colton (Marcel T. Jimenez), crying after the accident that takes Kyle’s life. This effectively haunts the viewers, as it explores what happens to Colton and his classmates after this loss.
Coming of age films are either getting better or that my tolerance for them is. Either way, director and writer Graham Foy makes some good decisions here, narrative wise. He spends the film’s first twenty minutes with both characters. The first impression that viewers is that this may be just your typical Canadian coming of age film with insufferable Gen Z-ers. But the thing that normally happens during the third act happens in the first. That way, the major event feels less like a plot point and more of a thing that the characters and thus, we the viewers, can contemplate.
The Maiden has an emotional richness that comes through because of its performances, but there are some pieces here that take a bit to fit. This is true even in a film that likes tto take its left turns. That piece, specifically, is Whitney (Hayley Ness), one of Colton and Kyle’s classmates. There’s a real event that leads to the two boys’ separation while Whitney is going through more of a friendship breakup. She’s the most relatable and least annoying main character, but introducing her in the third act might make some viewers wonder what she’s doing in the film.
Thankfully, The Maiden finds a way to make Whitney a full part of the film’s worlds. There’s also the usual elements here that make the film a better sensory experience overall. It makes us feel the sounds of its Calgary suburb setting, a battleground between humanity and nature. The minimal soundtrack and subtle sound capes also reinforce the dreamy atmosphere it’s going for. Visually, it mostly uses old methods like using 16mm stock. Another writer detected AI to transform Kyle’s face but I’ll chalk that up to Sluiter’s performance instead. Lastly, I like how two characters return to the screens and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Watch The Maiden at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
- Release Date: 5/10/2023