Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Review: Woodshock is a sensuous exploration of human consciousness

Kirsten Dunst in Woodshock.

Courtesy of Elevation

2.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy
Directed by
Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy
Kirsten Dunst, Joe Cole and Pilou Asbaek

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Actor Sally Hawkins says it wasn’t hard to “fall in love” with the creature in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water.” Hawkins was at the Toronto film fest screening of the movie, along with del Toro and Octavia Spencer. The Canadian Press
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to