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film review

Kirsten Dunst in Woodshock.

In the aftermath of her mother's death, Theresa (Kirsten Dunst) moves to live near the majestic redwoods of Humboldt County in California. Despite the sylvan setting and her affable dispensary boss, Keith (Pilou Asbaek), she floats through days in an increasingly detached fog. Only her nocturnal forays in the forest offer solace.

Theresa's state of mind has as much to do with the side effects of guilt and grief as the potent weed she's smoking, expressed in hypnotic visuals that demonstrate writer-directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy's deft command of mood – the film's delicate, prismatic ellipses are to be savoured.

"Great grief," Victor Hugo wrote, "is a divine and terrible radiance which transfigures the wretched," and in this, Woodshock is a sensuous, visual tone poem of human consciousness. It works even when the languid pace, disorienting shifts and Theresa's elastic perception of time stretch a little too thin.

The disappointment is when a baffling and unnecessary third-act coup de théâtre abruptly crashes a comedown from the elaborate high.

Woodshock opens at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday.

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