North of Normal

Based on the memoir North of Normal by Canadian author Cea Sunrise Person, Carly Stone’s drama of the same name is about a very interesting mother-daughter dynamic that’s been influenced by an unconventional upbringing and the ripple effect made by varying degrees of neglect.

Portrayed through a fractured timeline, Person (played exceptionally by young stars River Price-Maenpaa and Amanda Fix) can’t help but feel weary around her mother Michelle (Sarah Gadon, in a career-best performance).  Her mother may have sincerely believed she was providing enough of a grounded support system for Cea, but the constant uprooting while dating questionable men didn’t send young Cea with much reassurance.  Several years later, Cea is reunited with Michelle and, together, they try to rebuild their family unit.  Unfortunately for Cea, old habits die hard and the past has a habit of repeating itself.

Despite North of Normal’s heavy subject matter, Stone and screenwriter Alexandra Weir always perceive Cea Sunrise Person and her efforts with heartfelt emotion.  Optimism is often followed by Person’s disappointment, but not without the filmmakers recognizing how the author persevered.  And with an opinion of presumed innocence, Michelle’s desperation throughout her gaiety is given the benefit of the doubt.  Gadon’s acting also follows suit.  When the sheen off of Person’s reality gradually peels off, North of Normal addresses how inner strength can be achieved by those who have wished for change and, eventually, have to create the change for themselves. 

North of Normal is an eye-opener.  And much like White OleanderClosest Monster or Trouble in the Garden, this movie could change lives for those who can relate to the main character.


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