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Review: Firecrackers

March 29, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Lou (Michaela Kurimsky) and Chantal (Karena Evans) are best friends who are both trapped in the small Ontario town where they grew up, and they are trying to save up enough money so that they can hitch a ride to New York.

But their plans to escape are threatened to be upended following a bad encounter with Chantal’s possessive ex-boyfriend Kyle (Dylan Mask), which leads to a series of rash decisions. Lou’s precarious living situation with her somewhat volatile mother (Tamara LeClair) is also in a state of upheaval, with the arrival of her mom’s new boyfriend Johnny (David Kingston).

Expanding her 2013 short film of the same name, Firecrackers is the feature debut of young writer-director Jasmin Mozaffari, a Ryerson graduate who crafts a compelling low-key character drama that at times recalls the work of Andrea Arnold.

While the story of wanting to leave your small town to find a better life in the city might seem familiar, Firecrackers renders it from a uniquely feminine perspective, and in doing so touches on timely themes of sexual abuse, female independence, and trying to break free from the cycle of poverty and all of the problems that come with it. The often handheld cinematography by Catherine Lutes captures this all with gritty authenticity and intensity.

Carried by impressively naturalistic work from its mostly young cast, including a breakout performance from child actor Callum Thompson who delivers a sensitive portrayal of Lou’s gender-questioning little brother, Firecrackers is an engaging and assured feature debut that serves as a promising calling card for all involved.

Firecrackers is now playing in limited release at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas in Toronto.

A version of this review was originally published during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

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