#REVIEW: “BOREALIS” (CANADIAN FILM FEST)
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
I was in a quandary after viewing BOREALIS. There was so much to admire about it. They cast ultra-talented Joey King (Wish I Was Here, TV’s Fargo), with the most hypnotic, beautiful eyes to grace the big screen since Kirstie Alley in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, and have her play Aurora, a character who is going blind. Surround her with the folks who made one of my favourite Movie of 2012, My Awkward Sexual Adventure: Jonas Chernik (who also wrote the screenplay) as Aurora’s father Jonah; Emily Hampshire as Jonah’s girlfriend Kyla and director Sean Garrity, then stir in comedian Kevin Pollak as a violently volatile bookie nicknamed Tubby into the mix and this movie should have batted it out of the ballpark. While BOREALIS succeeds wildly on the strength of the exuberant and captivating performances of the lead actors, it ultimately fails due to its heavy handed and obvious visual clichés, its lapses of common sense and it eventually winds up as just another…sigh…road trip movie.
Jonah loses the $100K credited to him by Tubby in a backroom poker game and is given one day to repay the loan. When confronted and beat up at his home by Tubby and told that if he doesn’t return the money owing, he and his daughter will be hurt and then takes the family dog as collateral, Jonah asks his girlfriend for a loan. Kyla, tired of his lies and his lack of parenting skills when it comes to Aurora, leaves him. After being told by Aurora’s doctor that she will become completely blind and unable to tell his daughter of her fate, Jonah concocts a plan to take a road trip with her to Churchill, Manitoba where he once saw the Northern Lights. The trip is twofold: to escape Tubby and for his daughter to see something extraordinary and beautiful before she loses her sight forever.
Here was my conundrum: hours after screening BOREALIS, all I could remember about the movie were the scenes that irritated me while watching it. Was it necessary that almost every time Aurora sat in a car the windshields were filthy and streaked beyond belief or that plastic sheets covered the windows of her home? I get it, let’s impair her vision even more. Movie Symbolism 101, anyone? If I were a bookie and someone was into me for big bucks that they obviously cannot afford, would I incur the added expense of hiring a pilot and plane to try to find them? Where’s the cost benefit analysis? And don’t get me started on the kidnapping of the family dog! The irritants overshadowed a truly inspired, beautifully-written and executed scene between Joey King and Jake Epstein, who plays Fergus a hipster she hooks up with in Flin Flon, Manitoba.
I liked BOREALIS. With its pedigree, I should have loved it.
It plays Thursday, March 31, 2016 at The Royal Cinema 7 PM as part of Canadian Film Fest.