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TIFF 2020: “Like a House on Fire”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

There are many reasons why a mother decides to leave her family behind, including her own child. It is easy to jump to conclusions instead of putting ourselves into the shoes of that person. But what happens when we don’t? What if those who were left alone had to move on?

Dara (Sarah Sutherland) returns home after two years of absence to find her daughter, Isabel (Margaux Vaillancourt), who no longer remembers her. Dara’s husband, Dan (Jared Abrahamson), is living with a woman (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) who is seven months pregnant. As she tries to win her family back, she realizes it is not going to be so easy as she has to learn to navigate through her internal demons, release them for good, and only after that take a step forward.

“Like a House on Fire”, written and directed by Jesse Noah Klein, is a Canadian drama that is lacking in emotions a bit. Intentionally or not, we are left to understand Dara’s reasons, which is understandable, but the screenplay does not give Sutherland much to improvise with the background story of her character. If not for that, the film itself is a solid film that certainly gives a higher mark to Canadian cinema that always tries to produce decent films with whatever budget it has in its hands.

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