THE BODY REMEMBERS is a low budget 2-handler about two indigenous women. It has a simple premise and directors Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Maija Tailfeathers go to great lengths with details.
The film opens with Rosie (Violet Nelson) riding a bus. A woman with a child gets on, dropping a plush toy that Rosie picks up. It is hinted that she likes children an it is soon revealed that Rosie is expecting. Also seen boarding the bus in the background is Aila (the film’s co-director and writer, Elle-Maija Tailfeathers) who later encounters Rose crying not the street, but not before the audience is given some background of her. Aila is 31 and wants a baby but has had problems having one despite hers trying. Aila has had an abortion before.
Áila then encounters again Rosie, barefoot and crying in the rain on the side of a busy street. She soon discovers that this young woman, Rosie, has just escaped a violent assault at the hands of her boyfriend. Áila decides to bring Rosie home with her and over the course of the evening, the two navigate the aftermath of this traumatic event. Not much in terms of the story but Aila tries to convince Rosie to stay at a safe-house to protect herself and the baby.
This is one extremely slow moving film saddled with details. If one loves details, then this film will be a pleasure to watch. The directors ensure that one feels for each character down to every moment. Every movement or action have repercussions. Rosie at one point takes something from Aila’s handbag. It does not register what it is till much later in the film that it is her wallet. Rosie is particularly rude and ungrateful despite Aila’s care. Credibility comes into the picture.
As far as Aila’s patience for Rosie despite her rudeness and swearing, one might attribute it to Aila’s not being able to have a baby. Other than that, her patience is quite beyond belief. Any normal person would have given up on Rosie. The scenes in the taxi are overlong and demands a lot of patience.
Though one might sympathize with the pregnant and abused Rosie, Rosie is depicted to be an independent person who thinks she knows what she wants, regardless of her being right or wrong.
THE BODY REMEMBERS is definitely a difficult watch, for its attention to detail, its slow pace and sombre and depressing story. To the directors’ credit, this is an uncompromising tale that celebrates the the resilience of women, regardless whether the film works or not.
The TFCA has nominated this film as one of the three nominees for this years Best Canadian Feature that carries a big cash prize. It has just been selected as Canada’s Top 10 for 2019.