Directed by: Miranda de Pencier
Written by: Moira Walley-Beckett and Graham Yost
Starring: Will Sasso, Ben Schnetzer and Tantoo Cardinal
It’s a dangerous business these days to try to tell stories of another culture, especially one as historically marginalized as that of Canada’s Inuit. And the tear-jerking tale here – based on a true story about a teacher from down south who uses lacrosse to bring together Nunavut teens reeling from a rash of suicides – is suffused with possible landmines, from the white-saviour complex to cynical exploitation of tragedy.
But, working with Inuit producers and a cast studded with locals whose confidence and spirit belie their lack of experience (as well as U.S. actor Ben Schnetzer, who may remind some of Northern Exposure’s Rob Morrow), first-time feature director Miranda de Pencier delivers a crowd-pleasing (if sometimes clunky) drama.
At the least, it’s a fascinating puzzle: a film that is simultaneously an indictment of the toxic legacy of cultural imperialism and a weepie that employs the familiar tropes of Hollywood, one of the biggest machines of cultural imperialism on the planet.
The Grizzlies opens April 19 in major cities across Canada before expanding May 3