Compulsus @ Fantasia Film Festival

Canadian director Tara Thorne (first feature film) brings us a film shot on the East Coast of this country and screening as part of the Queer Genre Cinema Spotlight at this year’s Fantasia. A queer vigilante film, it is a tale about what could happen if women who have suffered from abuse at the hands of a man would take it upon themselves to seek revenge.

This is no wilting flower of a film. though, I guess, a vigilante film would never be described as such. Thorne, as a director, demonstrates herself to be as fearless as the female character taking revenge into her own hands. I also really appreciated the fact that Thorne decided to give precious little screentime to the male abusers. In a stroke of genius Thorne has used the same male actor to portray the seven attackers in the film. Not even given names thus rendering the attackers impotent in a nameless and faceless kind of way. Definitely takes their power away and puts the focus on the strength of the female lead.

She has had enough and is going to do something about it. Wally (Lesley Smith – The Child Remains) is angry about all the women she knows (and in the news) who have been harassed or abused by men. She has reached her breaking point so is going to exact revenge. So, at night she heads out to find the men she knows have abused women and then beats them while threatening to finish them off if they lay another hand on a woman again.

As she begins as a vigilante is when she meets Lou (Kathleen Dorian – appeared in episodes of Trailer Park Boys: Jail and Chapelwaite). The two start a romantic relationship, but it is compromised when Lou finds out that the woman she loves is the vigilante who has been targeting men. Which will Wally choose – love or justice?

As I wrote, the focus here is the women and that they are the victims of attacks by men. Despite all the advances some women think have been made, violence or the threat of it is always a possibility for women of all ages. This is an interesting nuance of the film – its point of view. Told only from the female perspective and engaging the discussion of why hasn’t something been done to stop this once and for all? Even Wally, who becomes the vigilante, has (as far as we know) not been the victim of violence. That is not the source of her anger and desire for revenge. She is just sick of the fact that women are being attacked and no one is doing anything to stop it.

Only having a small budget does not hamper Thorne in her attempt to tell this story from her own unique perspective. Her critique of toxic male behaviour leading to violence lands bang on. Even though the story is a simple one, it is effective. Message delivered and received!

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