Pascal Plante’s Nadia, Butterfly eerily takes place at the now-cancelled 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and follows a French Canadian Olympian swimmer as she participates in her final event as a professional athlete. Lovingly directed yet glacially paced, Nadia, Butterfly boasts some excellent performances and cinematography, but struggles to overcome its vague characterizations and meandering screenplay.
The premise Luke Eve’s I Met a Girl, a rather poignant road trip/love story, runs the risk of romanticizing mental illness, but manages to instead provide a positive opening for neurodiverse communities.
Lisa Langseth’s Euphoria, which premiered at TIFF three years ago, quietly yet poignantly explores the estranged relationship between two sisters amidst news that one of them is dying. Beautifully written and elegantly directed, Euphoria is as emotionally devastating as it is moving.
Daniel Roby’s deftly directed thriller Target Number One fictionalizes the true story of a Quebecois drug addict who was imprisoned in Thailand as a result of a set-up by Canadian intelligence in the 1980s. Taking some of its procedural cues from Spotlight, Target Number One is a kinetic, uncompromising look at the impacts and importance of journalism on the overreach of power in counter-intelligence.
Lake Michigan Monster is an irreverently humorous riff on z-budget monster movies of the 1950s, complete with shoestring special effects, deliberately tacky plotlines, and unusual characters. A bizarre product of writer/director Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, Lake Michigan Monster arrives at a time of great need for strong laughs at a brisk and breezy running time.
Jesse O’Brien’s horror/comedy Two Heads Creek aims to tackle the swelling issue of racism and nationalism in Australia and the United Kingdom through the most unusual of means: cannibalism. Though it’s hard not to appreciate the attempt, Two Heads Creek’s absurd premise often overtakes the seriousness of the threat posed by racism and nationalism.
Director, writer, and star Frederick Keeve demonstrates a strong imagination but a weak sense of dramatic ability in his feature The Accompanist, a story about a gay piano accompanist who becomes infatuated with a male ballerina amidst a series of tragedies that befall both men.
Fresh off the festival circuit, Hlynur Pálmason’s A White, White Day rapturously yet bleakly explores familiar themes of grief and loss. Pálmason’s second feature offers a clinical, appropriately distanced character study, while maintaining a coherent sense of the character’s interiority.
As the world struggles under this catastrophic pandemic, it seems prudent to remind us of another epidemic currently ravaging North America: the opioid epidemic. Consequently, Joey Klein’s timely Castle in the Ground depicts a band of young people struggling with addiction amid the trauma of their personal lives. While dramatically powerful and compellingly acted, the film has surprisingly little to say about the structural issues surrounding addiction and mental illness.
Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance comes at a time of surging interest in more action-oriented films relating to the Holocaust, World War II, anti-Semitism, and Nazism. Unlike recent media like Amazon’s Hunters and HBO’s The Plot Against America, Resistance doesn’t participate in any overt historical or genre revisionism, though it is hard to ignore its slight devotion to the thriller genre.