Indian Horse

INDIAN HORSE DISC D: Stephen Campanelli. Canada. 100.

INDIAN HORSE DISC D: Stephen Campanelli. Canada. 100 min. Sep 15, 8:30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 Sep 16, 8:30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 4. Rating: NNN

The late Richard Wagamese’s novel about an Ojibway kid who gets a chance to escape a residential school by playing hockey gets a well-meaning but ultimately superficial adaptation, relating the events of the story but missing out on the resonance.

Director Campanelli (Momentum) and screenwriter Dennis Foon (Life Above All) are clearly trying to pack as much of Wagamese’s book into a feature film as possible. But their approach renders most of the secondary characters one-dimensional, leaving actors like Michael Murphy, Michiel Huisman and Martin Donovan struggling to breathe life into bland expository dialogue.

The three actors who play Saul Indian Horse over some 30 years of his life – Sladen Peltier, Forrest Goodluck and Ajuawak Kapashesit – are uniformly terrific, and the film does have its moments. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the story would be better served at miniseries length.

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