TIFF 2017 Review: Ingrid Veninger`s ‘Porcupine Lake’ (2017) ★★★★

Ingrid Veninger is one of those Canadian filmmakers, whose new films never fail to fascinate me, thus, I am always eagerly waiting for her new creations. Born in Bratislava, Slovakia and raised in Canada, Veninger has developed an interesting style of directing – her stories unfold so cleverly, allowing the viewer to get the full sense of the characters and their stories.  Her latest feature film seems like a psychologist who never stops analyzing her patients, who in this film, might be yet a bit young to comprehend the world thoroughly. That is what makes the trip to “Porcupine Lake” even more meaningful.

Bea (Charlotte Salisbury)  is a thirteen-year-old girl who is yet to find her true identity – who she is and who she can be. This coming-of-age story takes us to a self-discovery trip during one seemingly uneventful summer which turns into an exciting journey for Bea and her new girlfriend – Kate (Lucinda Armstrong Hall). Both girls seem to face their own battles at home, yet, when outside, they feel like they own the entire world. Childhood fairy tales always end with the beautiful princess finding her Prince Charming and living a happily ever after. In this coming-of-age tale, though, what is found is a profound friendship.

Bea’s parents – Ally and Scotty, have to face a hard decision – whether to end their marriage or to try saving it somehow. When things are tense in the family, Bea finds her escape in befriending Kate. The two soon become close friends. The film portraits the innocent friendship of two girls, that, at times, might be too naïve due to their young age, and will doubtlessly make the viewer’s heart melt. As characteristic for a teenager, Bea questions her own perspective of life. And friendship with Kate helps her understand that true friendship requires commitment.

Bea’s mother, however, is concerned that the friendship between the two girls might be confusing for her and could lead her to a different life path. As a viewer, such questions most probably will not cross your mind, as the director will lead you inside Bea’s and Kate’s world where you will get to know who they really are and how their friendship will develop in the end. If you’ve experienced true friendship, you will for sure understand the strong bond between the two girls. It seems though, that even very caring parents – overwhelmed with their own troubles – do not know much about their own flesh and blood, which might lead them to get a wrong idea.

Veninger’s “Porcupine Lake” celebrates its World Premiere at the 42nd Toronto Film Festival this year, marking yet another work by the director to hit the silver screen at such a big film event.

Summarizing the film, I believe it’s an interesting place where every girl or every boy could find themselves. It is a beautiful world of friendship, where only good things can happen. And I underline it – only good things! The film talks about sacrifices and the willingness to relocate – not from one place to another but rather from one mindset to a different one. Kate and Bea know well their own expectations. They also know that every expectation comes with a price. And seeing that in them is what truly fascinated me. I hope you feel the same sensation as you watch the film, and I believe one really needs to see Veninger’s film to grasp the whole magic of it.


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