Review: Across the Line
By John Corrado
★★★ (out of 4)
The feature debut of Director X, who is perhaps better known for music videos like Hotline Bling, Across the Line is a well made and often stylish examination of poverty and racism at a small town high school.
Partially inspired by real racial tensions in North Preston, Nova Scotia in 1988, the film focuses on Mattie Slaughter (Stephan James), a promising high school hockey star in North Preston who is relying on the dream of lucrative sports scholarships to help lift his family out of poverty.
But simmering tensions with a group of racist white students, his older brother’s (Shamier Anderson) gang involvement, as well as jealously around a mixed-race girl (Sarah Jeffery), all threaten to derail his hockey career.
Although there are a few flashes of melodrama, Across the Line is a well acted and fairly engaging look at the collisions of violence and racism that sadly still exist in this small town, enlivened by compelling stylistic touches, including a visually arresting slow motion rumble. It’s worth a look, and provides another solid showcase for the considerable talents of rising star Stephan James.
Across the Line is now playing in limited release in Toronto.