June 08, 2013

Lesser Blessed is "indie gem"

Review: 'Lesser Blessed' captures harsh realities with tender grace

A First Nations teen comes to grips with tragedy amid new friendships in Anita Doron's haunting new indie.

By Betsy Sharkey
Set in a small rural town in Canada's Northwest Territories, where cold and decay are constant companions, "The Lesser Blessed" is a little indie gem that begins with a warm bath. Larry Sole (Joel Evans) is submerged, silent, an enigma with soulful eyes.

The silence is deceptive. There is a fire raging underneath. It begins to surface in flashbacks as he lies there deathly still. All we know at the beginning is that there was a blaze and a fight with a man and that both left the teenager scarred. The visible ones we see right away. Horrible what fire does to the skin.

Pensively shot, painfully and poetically told, this is a story about a First Nations teen trying to recover from the unimaginable, respect his tribal roots and maybe fall in love.

In adapting Richard Van Camp's moving coming-of-age novel, which gives the film its name, writer-director Anita Doron takes her time. It suits both the tall, string bean of a kid and the story.
Comment:  For more on Native movies, see Tatanka Means in Tiger Eyes and Running Deer Premieres at Ak-Chin.

Below:  "Tamara Podemski plays Joel Evans’ mom, with Benjamin Bratt also starring, in The Lesser Blessed."

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