Black Conflux

Canadian film which had its world premiere on the large platform of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and ended up in the festival’s Top 10 Canadian features list. Directed and written by Ryerson University graduate Nicole Dorsey (first feature film), the film is set in the 1980s in Newfoundland. Tells the tale of two people you think would not be linked together – a man who does not seem to like himself very much and a teenage girl who seems to have plenty of options.

The year is 1987 and in a rather dead end rural town in Newfoundland things are happening. For two people at least. Jackie Dunphy (Ella Ballentine – The Captive, Standoff) is a 15-year-old high schooler who is the product of a broken home and raised by her aunt (Olivia Scriven – from television’s Degrassi: The Next Generation). Despite this her future seems bright. Which is a surprise because the women in her family have never seemed to have any luck.

Things begin to change for Jackie as she finds herself on the cusp of becoming an adult. Succumbing to pressure her behaviour takes a nose dive as she begins to skip school, hitchhiking and partying. A teenager trying to figure out who she is. This behaviour brings her on a collision course with an older man.

Dennis (Ryan McDonald – from television’s Fringe) is a man who lives under a black cloud. A loner with precious few social skills, who has dark fantasies about women. His car is where these violent dreams come to life.

An impressive feature film debut by Dorsey. A filmmaker with a unique voice and with seemingly plenty to say in a bold way without being too brash. Able to take a coming of age in a small town story and give us something different. Mature work which features an eye catching look.

Pretty much a character story which shows us where and how we grow up makes an imprint on a person. Also how hard it is to get out from under your environment. The telling of the story is aided greatly by some solid acting by Ella Ballentine and Ryan McDonald (who was nominated for the Best Actor award at last year’s Canadian Screen Awards), who are ably supported by Olivia Scriven and Sofia Banzhaf (Splinters, Honey Bee).

A film which is filled with a dark tone and explores what it means to be a woman, how isolation affects a person and how damaging/dangerous toxic masculinity is – for women and men. After watching you will find it hard to leave the film behind.

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