#TIFF21: “SCARBOROUGH” REVIEW
By Mr. Will Wong
Catherine Hernandez adapts her award-winning Novel SCARBOROUGH to the big screen with Co-Directors Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. What we get is a Film that feels very “now” addressing with a fly-on-the-wall’s authenticism the issues facing under-heard and under-seen voices in a low-income part of the story’s titular town.
The Film centers on three children: Bing (Liam Diaz) who is gay and struggling with bullying and racism at school, living with his recently-single mother who just found work at a nail parlour; Laura (Anna Claire Beitel) who is sent to live with her temperamental, unfit father; Sylvie (Mekiya Fox) is an Indigenous girl without a permanent home.
Hernandez uses some of her experiences working at a Day Care and gives us some real lived-in insight here. Her characters feel very real and in all honesty, I see a lot of myself in Bing, a boy who always felt excluded and an outsider looking-in at their classmates. Subtly, he is grappling with society’s standards of masculinity, but also a lack of acceptance from his peers who tell him repeatedly the rice he eats is disgusting. The performances by the Film’s young Cast are phenomenal, with Beitel delivering a great depth in her quiet stillness. Fox‘s strength and bravado is the BFF we always wish we had. Another standout is Aliya Kanani as Ms. Hina, an empathetic teacher with a good soul, whom herself is dealing with rigidity in a system which might not be setting these children up for success.
There aren’t big climaxes or payoffs in SCARBOROUGH, but what it gives us is compassion in understanding some very real problems and troubles facing people every day who are close to home. One of the most important films to come out of Canada in quite some time.
SCARBOROUGH screens at TIFF ’21:
Fri, Sep 10 IN-PERSON TIFF Bell Lightbox 4:00pm
Fri, Sep 10 DIGITAL PREMIERE SCREENING digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Availability: Canada 9:00pm
Tue, Sep 14 DIGITAL SECOND SCREENING digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Availability: Canada 5:00pm
Sat, Sep 18 IN-PERSON TIFF Bell Lightbox 6:00pm