Sarah Gavron’s Rocks is a realist coming-of-age drama that follows a young girl of colour, “Rocks” (Bukky Bakray), as she struggles caring for her younger brother after their mother leaves without warning. Aggressively directed and acted, Rocks offers a poignant intersectional look at race, poverty, and gender in the context of the United Kingdom, where the racial tensions–let alone economic tensions–triggered by Brexit are flourishing.
Lenin M. Sivam’s Roobha explores two intersecting narratives: one, a young dancer, Roobha (Amrit Sandhu), a transgender woman living on the streets; two, an older bartender Antony (Jesuthasan Antonythasan) whose poor lifestyle choices have severally worsened his health. The two unexpectedly fall in love, creating tension in both characters’ lives.
György Pálfi’s His Master’s Voice is a thoroughly confusing, questionably plotted sci-fi film that is hindered by a myriad of subplots, vague ideas, and an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to combine traditional fictional filmmaking practices with mock-documentary elements.
Fresh for October’s spooky movie season, Thomas Robert Lee’s The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw is an eerie period-piece horror film about a witch and her daughter’s unnerving control over the fate and sanity of a nearby rural village. Effectively atmospheric and compellingly acted, The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw seems to strive to ride the coattails of Robert Egger’s magnum opus The Witch, though it evidently falls short of that mark.
Eternal Beauty is ostensibly the second film to be released in recent months in which a character diagnosed with schizophrenia struggles with the broad issues of love, family, and life. Unlike Luke Eve’s heavily saccharine I Met a Girl, where a man with schizophrenia travels across Australia to find a girl who may or may not exist, Eternal Beauty’s narrative is much more complex, even confounding, and precisely what endpoint it is seeking is vague.
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.