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film review

Hugh Thompson and Stephan James in Across the Line.

For his debut feature, music-video visionary Director X (the man responsible for Drake's Hotline Bling and Rihanna's Work) goes old-school, in a sense. Tackling racial tensions at a Nova Scotia high school – Cole Harbour High, to be specific, the site of an infamous brawl between white and black students in 1989 – X uses almost every stylistic trick up his sleeve to ratchet up the drama. Good thing, too, as most of the actors at the centre of the film need all the assistance they can get. Only the stellar Stephan James (of the recent Jesse Owens biopic Race) can spin the weak script into compelling drama, playing a P.K. Subban-esque hockey star fighting for recognition against all manner of deluded small-town racists. Still, X's strong visual storytelling skills carry the film home, and herald a promising big-screen career.