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Tantoo Cardinal in Falls Around Her.The Film Farm

Falls Around Her

Written and directed by: Darlene Naponse

Starring: Tantoo Cardinal and Tina Keeper

Classification: 14A; 100 minutes


2.5 out of 4 stars

The strength of this small movie is twofold: first, it creates and captures the mood of life on the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation in Northern Ontario. Second, it stars Tantoo Cardinal, the acclaimed Métis actress, in her first above-the-title role. It’s about time.

The nuances that flicker across Cardinal’s face are both subtle and stirring, like wind playing on the surface of a lake. There are long scenes of stillness, of Cardinal looking at the land, being in it. Its rhythms aren’t the usual movie rhythms, and it stumbles only when it tries to be conventional.

Mary (Cardinal) is a touring musician who’s had enough of fame, and returns home to her land and her sister (Tina Keeper) to recharge. Writer/director Darlene Naponse lingers over scenes of Mary cocooning – including an intimate moment of sexuality that we rarely get to see in Indigenous characters – and her gradual reopening to love. Eventually her past comes calling, which requires Mary to trust in her own strength and resilience. She fights to revel in her life in her own way.

Falls Around Her opens March 29

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