Each year at the fantastic Fantasia film festival there are always a nice selection of Quebec and Canadian filmmakers ready to be discovered. Festivals like this really make you appreciate the talent we have in this province and country when it comes to filmmaking and acting.
Now that I have finished the toot our own horns section of the review…
Yankee (despite what the title might lead you to believe) is a film made here by Stephan Beaudoin. It is the type of film in which the less said about the story the better. Part of the enjoyment is that it never goes where you think it will. Even saying that is a little too much.
Bare bones resume: A young woman named Skylar (Devon Slack), who lives in Albany, calls her male cousin who lives in Drummondville in desperation. Something has happened and he needs to come get her.
When they arrive in Drummondville she is staying with him (he is a small time drug dealer who seems to be in some serious money trouble) and realizes she has no money. So her cousin tells her he knows a way she can make some cash. She has to take part in illegal underground fights. If she wins she can earn money and, it seems, also get him out of his money problems.
That is all I am going to say….about the story of the film, I mean. I have plenty to say about the film itself. About five minutes into watching it I was thinking that this was going to be a crappy low budget Quebec made film. You know the type. Well, it made me eat crow by about minute fifteen. Reasons being a story which keeps you interested and guessing (repeating myself), a riveting performance by Devon Slack and smart directorial choices by Beaudoin. In other words, all the key elements to making an interesting film are here to be found.
An interesting look at violence in a very modern context. Can violence get you out of violence? It is a complex issue. One with many layers and as the film goes on the layers begin unfolding. Violence is all around all of us in one form or another. We are either participants or observers. It has almost become a normal part of life. So definitely warrants being explored in film.
Another engaging aspect of the film is the fact that the lead, the one having to deal and live with all this violence, is a woman. Sure, sure because of female actresses like Charlize Theron, Kate Beckinsale and Angelina Jolie, it is not completely unusual for a female character to be at the center of action/violence. It still is not the norm, though.