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Film Review: HONEY BEE (Canada 2018) ***

Honey Bee Poster
Follows the journey of Natalie “Honey Bee” Sorensen, an underage truck stop prostitute trapped in a human trafficking ring until she is transplanted into foster care in remote Northern Ontario and forced to confront her identity.

Director:

Rama Rau

HONEY BEE is teen Natalie’s nickname which she is fond of that many of her friends or acquaintances use.

When the film opens Natalie (Julia Sarah Stone) is having a name tattooed on her wrist.  The tattoo reads “Ryan” (Stephen Love) a handsome boy who on first appearance acts a little weird sending and vibes to the audience.  But Natalie is head over heals in love with Ryan and she plans to go with him to the ‘Big Nickel’, which is, as many who live in the Province of Ontario, the mining town of Sudbury.

Just when one thinks that this is going to be the run-of-the-mill teen romance story, the story takes a sharp turn.  Natalie, who is really skinny and looking sort of emancipated is not what she seems.  The next scene shows her giving sexual favours to a trucker before being arrested.  But she is minor and put into a farm with foster parents instead.  It turns out that Ryan is a pimp who intends to sell her to another pimp in Sudbury.  And so the story goes.

It is a solid story.  The best thing too is that the audience is not on the side of Natalie as she is shown to be brash, rude and ill-disciplined.  The foster home is a farm where she is supposed to work while attending school.  But she is a rebellious teen and one can hardly sympathize with her.

Again director Rau  slowly turns the tables and evokes the audience’s sympathy.  She begins to realize through the signs that Ryan is not the decent man of her life and that he was using her, if not intending to sell her off for a large sum of money.

HONEY BEE has an indescribable charm that radiates throughout the story.  This is due to the enduring characters, each of of the characters in the film exhibiting charm at some point or other.  Cliched ,perhaps but the tactic works.  Natalie eventually wins the audience over, thanks to the subtly manipulative script by Bonnie Fairweather and Kathleen Hepburn.

The character of Natalie’s plump roommate, Chante (Michelle McLeod, DON’T TALK TO IRENE) always needs mention.  This is one person who has trouble fitting into the world.  When Natalie shows up, Change pictures her as the perfect saviour.  At first the two are at loggerheads, but they eventually bond together.

HONEY BEE works well foremost because director Rau tells the story in a straight forward fashion in chronological order.  Many directors would have opted for more style with a non-linear story telling that one becomes annoying hard to follow.  Director believes in the material and lets it workouts magic.

HONEY BELL ends up a little predictable coming-of-age story not only of Natalie but also of her roommate.  The film, based on solid script transformed into a well directed film, ends up charming the audience because of its endearing characters.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwI_nsDTQMk

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Film Review: THE UNSEEN (Canada 2016) ***1/2

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The Unseen Poster
A man who abandoned his family now risks everything to find his missing daughter, including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible.

Director:

Geoff Redknap

 

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Full Review: ALLURE (A WORTHY COMPANION) (Canada 2017) **

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Allure Poster
Trailer

A house cleaner meets a teenaged girl and convinces her to run away and live with her in secret.

 

ALLURE is the new title of the film A WORTHY COMPANION which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, a title more uplifting given its sombre subject matter.

Montreal-based fine arts photographers Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s debut (written and directorial) feature is a hard psychological thriller which centres on Laura (Evan Rachel Wood), a thirty-year-old woman, troubled by her past and struggling with a dysfunctional relationship with her father, seeking sexual and emotional fulfillment through a series of failed relationships.  However, her life changes when she befriends and convinces an unhappy sixteen-year-old girl, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone) to run away to her house, under the guise of a confidante who wants to help.   Although the arrangement initially works, it soon becomes clear that for the young girl to stay and continue satisfying her needs, the older woman will have to employ immoral tactics. Manipulation, denial and co-dependency fuel what ultimately becomes a fractured dynamic that can only sustain itself for so long.  Laura also begins sexual advances towards Eva.

But Laura begins getting really obsessive and prevents Eva from leaving the house.  The relationship turns out to be something like the Stockholm Syndrome.  Apparently, though no details are given, Laura has had the same type of ‘stalking’ problems before, as her dad, who employs her mentions in the film.  The film is both disturbing and engaging though onot always likeable.  Both actresses Wood and Stone (who looks a-like a very young Catherine Frot, the French actress) bring compassion to their roles and show their need for normalcy.  Unfortunately, as can be seen in the film, this normalcy is not easily to come about and the state of affairs come about from their own personal behavioural flaws.  

The film’ setting is left vague.  Though the wrier/directors are Montrealers, the characters speak fluent English and there is no trace of French.  The neighbourhood does look like a typical Montreal neighbourhood though there are no signs in French.  The film begins in the fall (judging from the colour of the leaves on the trees) and ends in winter (with snow seen on the ground).  It is a school term but nowhere in he film is Eva’s school mentioned.  Eva’s schooling is conveniently left out in the story.  Or any of her friends or acquaintances.  Does Eva not own a cell phone?

The film suffers from an open ended ending, which for a film like this, one expects some satisfactory closure though one would to be surprised that there isn’t one.

ALLURE ends up an ok made, very nasty movie about nasty people dealing with nastiness.  The film began with dialogue like: “Fucking faggot!”  But one would think that this gay slant nastiness could have been down away with.

Trailer: http://www.eonefilmsmedia.ca/FileBank/Video/2018/91453-Allure%20-%20Canadian%20Domestic%20Trailer%20-%20Theatrical%20-%20Coming%20Soon.mp4

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: A WORTHY COMPANION (Canada 2017) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

A Worthy Companion Poster
Plagued by the abuse of her past and the turmoil of failed intimate encounters, Laura struggles to find a lover and a sense of normalcy. Her beacon of hope comes in sixteen year-old Eva, a …See full summary »

Stars:

Evan Rachel WoodJulia Sarah StoneDenis O’Hare

Montreal-based fine arts photographers Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s debut feature is a hard psychological thriller which centres on a 30-year-old woman (Evan Rachel Wood) embarking on an intimate yet ultimately manipulative relationship with a 16-year-old runaway (Julia Sarah Stone).

But the woman, Laura begins getting really obsessive and prevents Eva from leaving the house. The relationship turns out to be something like the Stockholm Syndrome. Apparently, though no details are given, Laura has had the same type of ‘stalking’ problems before, as her dad, who employs her mentions in the film.

The film is both disturbing and engaging though one can hardly look forward to a satisfactory or happy ending. Both actresses Wood and Stone bring compassion to their roles and show their need for normalcy.

Unfortunately, as can be seen in the film, this normalcy is not easily to come about and the state of affairs come about from their own personal behavioural flaws.

The film suffers from an open ended ending, which for a film like this, one expects some satisfactory closure.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI1bAF6tOdE

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