Beans Drama

Innocence Lost: A TIFF Review of ‘Beans’

September 17, 2020Britany Murphy

A timely and poignant passion project from writer-director Tracey Deer, Beans is the story of a 12-year-old Mohawk girl whose life is about to be turned upside down, set during the tense 1990 standoff between two Mohawk communities (the Kanehsatà:ke and the Kahnawá:ke) and the Québec provincial police, the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces.

With every second of every moment, we see the toll the three-month standoff takes on Beans (newcomer Kiawentiio) and her family, as the construction of a golf course is set to ravage Mohawk land and a Mohawk burial ground. Torn between being a kid and being a young adult, Beans finds herself rebelling in many different ways as she tries to navigate the tension, racism and anti-Indigenous sentiment that surrounds her. Accordingly, Deer expertly captures the standoff's impact to the Indigenous communities fighting to keep their sacred land during what has come to be known as the "Oka Crisis." Meanwhile, Kiawentiio shines as Beans, putting forth a compelling and stirring performance that helps make this one of the best coming-of-age films in recent memory.

Based on true events, the result is an impactful tale that deserves to be seen. From start to finish, Beans is an expertly crafted movie that not only highlights the highs and lows of being on the precipice of adolescence, but also shows the true fight for life faced by many Indigenous communities, even to this day.

Beans screens under the Discovery and TIFF Next Wave programmes at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 32 min.

You May Also Like