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TIFF Review: 'Through Black Spruce'

September 8, 2018Britany Murphy

Having left her community in Northern Ontario to make a name for herself in Toronto years ago, a young Cree woman disappears, shaking her family and her community to its core.

The film opens up with Will Bird (Brandon Oakes) floating in and out of consciousness. Having just suffered from a violent act committed by one of his neighbors and an unknown man, the story is mostly told in the voice of Will and his niece, Annie (Tanaya Beatty). We follow the Bird family's past year and the events that occurred which led to the disappearance of Annie's twin sister, Suzanne, as Annie quickly gets roped into Suzanne's former world and the danger to her becomes more and more apparent. Captured in a way that reflects a murder-mystery and coupled with many unexpected twists and turns, the film is one that will have you guessing.

Based on the book of the same name by Joseph Boyden, Don McKellar directs a powerful cast in Through Black Spruce, with the emotional journey the movie takes us on only serving to show just why Beatty is a star, while Oakes is the perfect foil to Beatty's Annie as Uncle Will. The pair are both powerhouses and command your attention any time they share the screen, making them truly the heart and soul of the story.

Through Black Spruce makes its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 51 min.

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