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Film Review: “Once Upon a River”


© Film Movement

Rating: 3 out of 5.

At any given time, even a mature person can succumb to a certain level of difficulty in life by seeing it worsen minute by minute. So what can we expect from the younger generation, who is yet to realize the true cycle of life?

Set in 1970’s Michigan, “Once Upon a River” takes aim at an indigenous teenage girl named Margo (Kenadi DelaCerna) who must face an enormous amount of loss, battle to save herself, search for her mother, and discover herself and a family that is not connected by blood. It is a story of a girl who must break over many fences before landing on her two feet – to be complete and fulfilled in life.

Adapted from Bonnie Jo Campbell’s book by writer/director Haroula Rose, the film opens with Margo, who is being raised by her father. Abandoned by her mother as a child, the girl must find her own way to grow as a woman. Not understanding much about making choices, she has intercourse with her teacher. When it was noticed and made known to her father, a chain of events will unfold, eventually leading Margo to mourn the loss of her father.

It is that moment she decides to find her estranged mother. However, the beauty of this story is life itself and how we can find a new family in people not restricted to bloodline, but in people that we are not even remotely related to. But before that can happen, she must meet people, get to know them, and gain a valuable life experience that will help her to make the life-changing decision.

Overall, the film offers an exceptionally brave heroine who goes against her fears and uncertainty to pave her way towards happiness and fulfilment. It wouldn’t be possible without people she befriends along the way. Because it does not matter how strong we are; when there is no support, even courage has an expiration date. Luckily, that won’t be the case with “Once Upon a River”.

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