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Julia Sarah Stone in Honey Bee.

Sixth Avenue Enterprises

  • Honey Bee
  • Directed by Rama Rau
  • Written by Bonnie Fairweather and Kathleen Hepburn
  • Starring Julia Sarah Stone, Martha Plimpton, Steven Love and Michelle McLeod
  • Classification 18A
  • 93 minutes

rating

Skeletal and big-eyed, the watchable young actor Julia Sarah Stone appears near alien as an underage truck-stop prostitute in the thin drama Honey Bee. Her limbs are twig-like, and she might be undernourished – some stew for her, please, and, while we’re at, could the screenwriters feed her something more substantial, too?

The talented Vancouverite, so good in Bruce McDonald’s lovely coming-of-age drama Weirdos from 2016, is the best part of Honey Bee, a handsome-looking but mild character study set in Northern Ontario, a land of soul-crushingly drab motel rooms, rugged rural beauty and lonely truckers with $40 to spare.

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She plays Natalie, a damaged foster-home castaway in love with a nasty young pimp who murmurs sweetly to her one minute and snaps brutishly at her the next. He’s definitely not happy when his “Honey Bee” gets arrested and shipped off to a farm and new foster parents. Martha Plimpton is wonderful as the stern but compassionate rooster-hating wife. As is Michelle McLeod, who plays the uncool, upbeat foster sister who just won’t stop trying to win over her sullen new roommate.

With her narrative feature debut, the documentary filmmaker Rama Rau offers an edgier after-school special that is nevertheless worth seeing for Stone alone.

Honey Bee opens on Sept. 20.

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