Canada still divides itself within class and race lines and I liked Wayne Wapeemukwa’s Luk’Luk’i for reminding me of that. The movie shows us unique places. Places that some consider as Vancouver’s underbelly. Dingy bars that have bingo nights where the prizes are so small that they shouldn’t matter. The patrons of those bars wait anxiously. The city pushes them away so that tourists visiting for the Vancouver Olympics don’t get to see them. And that push won’t stop after the Olympics, as gentrification is just around the corner. These causes should carry the film a second time but unfortunately it doesn’t. It’s simultaneously turgid and anticlimactic, as it juggles five protagonists without giving enough focus on all of them. I want to root for them but Wapeemukwa’s direction of them seem too scattered.
Even the frankness of the side characters seemed both nostalgic and refreshing. The characters that the audience sees in Luk’Luk’I might remind them of those they left behind. Or those who still linger in their present lives. The impressionistic approach still kind of works the second time around. But when the movies returns to the leads, it falls apart. There’s a sadism that permeates through here that is a byproduct of poverty porn films. This is true even and especially when it has good intentions. There’s a lack of dignity as it depicts people like Ken (Ken Harrower), an LGBT person with different abilities. All he wants are tickets to the final hockey game. He gets during the one time bingo night had a good prize. But not without going through some tribulations.
Ken belongs to a cross section of Canadians that mainstream citizens like to pretend to not exist. Another one of those Canadians is Mark (Joe Buffalo). He’s an Indigenous man who wants to be in a better neighborhood that doesn’t want him. There’s also Eric (Eric Buurman), who warns his adult son of the dangers of drugs and general bad decisions. The kid already knows the advice, which of course and understandably, the advice giver doesn’t follow. The problems that these characters endure elicit sympathy but they also lack subtlety. The movie is already hard to follow early on. But then it switches from one lead to another a bit too quickly as it progresses. A drastic change in opinion happens to some. But Luk’Luk’I blatantly shows its flaws during this repeat viewing.
To read my previous and rave review of the film when it came out at TIFF, go here.
- Release Date: 7/13/2018