The truly genuine joy about attending a film festival like TIFF is when you find that quiet off the radar movie that just knocks you on your ass.
The Levelling is an intense little family drama that milks the emotion out of its audience in some truly unexpected ways and it marks a power feature debut from a talent that we need to pay attention to in writer/director Hope Dickson Leach.
Clover (Elle Kendrick) is coming home to the family farm under some difficult circumstances, the death of her brother who has seemingly committed suicide. Her father is bitter at the world as he sees the life which is all he knows come unravelling around him, with the farm and his family hanging on by a thread.
This truly is the epitome of thoughtful filmmaking that doesn’t waste a single frame. Leach pulls us in with aplomb as we follow this disintegration of a family and a legacy fading away. Rarely do small, quiet films like this one feel so grand and epic at the same time as she uses some unexpected storytelling tropes to keep us on the emotional edge of our seats. Along with a poignant performance from Elle Kendrick, we truly see how small, independent cinema can bring us into something larger then ourselves.
The Levelling is easily the best movie that you’ve never heard of at this TIFF. Go catch it at its final public screening if you can this Saturday.