Mary (Tantoo Cardinal) is a world famous Anishnaabe musician. She decides to give all that up, Garbo style, and return to her rural cabin. This retreat gets her all kinds of visitors, both wanted and unwanted. All these visitors have motivations, like for her spend time with the community. “I can still swing an ax,” she warns a suitor. That is my second favorite line of the fest. It’s too bad that the rest of the dialogue and the delivery thereof feel unnatural.
Conversations start and stop abruptly. Most characters pester Mary about why she stopped singing, which prompts her to occasionally stop speaking. She instead spends time doing chores and walking in nature. She does this while weary of a real person following her around. These moments look more bleached out than your typical winter scenes. Cardinal is great in most scenes but she can’t sustain the silences in some of them. It doesn’t help that writer-director Darlene Naponse keeps these close-ups longer than she should.
Naponse nonetheless excels at showing off the rural Anishnaabe territory, honest in its desolation and its beauty. She also effectively sets these scenes with Mary’s lover Keith’s (Rob Stewart) guitar music. But all of this ends with a surprising genre turn that doesn’t work. It’s sad to see the festival’s first dud, but this review might make those mistakes look egregious, which they aren’t. While Naponse can’t fix the ending or some of the acting, she can polish up the rest through edits.
- Genre: Drama
- Release Date: 9/9/2018
- Directed by: Darlene Naponse
- Starring: Rob Stewart, Tantoo Cardinal
- Produced by: Darlene Naponse
- Written by: Darlene Naponse
- Studio: The Film Farm
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