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Stephen S. Campanelli directed Indian Horse, an adaptation of Richard Wagamese's 2012 novel of the same name.

Courtesy of Elevation

rating

  • Indian Horse
  • Directed by Stephen S. Campanelli
  • Written by Dennis Foon
  • Starring Sladen Peltier and Forrest Goodluck
  • Classification 14A;
  • 100 minutes
  • Opening April 13

A young Ojibwe boy is separated from his family and sent to a residential school in northern Ontario, where he and his fellow students are subjected to inhumane treatment from the school’s oppressive staff. They’re forced to give up their language, their culture, even their names.

The boy, Saul Indian Horse, eventually finds an escape in hockey, a sport for which he has a natural ability. Yet even as the game allows him to eventually leave the school and find some success in the minor leagues, he can’t outskate the past.

The film, an adaptation of the late Richard Wagamese’s 2012 novel of the same name, serves as a searing, if sometimes heavy-handed, commentary on the terrible legacy of Canada’s residential school system. There are some lovely performances from the younger actors, but for the most part the cast fails to support the weighty material. Still, the essence and importance of Wagamese’s book – both the brutality and the beauty – shines through, more vital than ever.

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