TIFF review: Splinters

Thom Fitzgerald's drama about a queer outcast reuniting with family is beautifully acted and doesn't need the extra flourishes

SPLINTERS CWC D: Thom Fitzgerald. Canada. 94 min. Sep 11, 7:15 pm, TBLB 3 Sep 12, 10 pm, Scotiabank 3 Sep 15, 6:30 pm, Scotiabank 10. See listing. Rating: NNN

Two decades after his breakout first feature, The Hanging Garden, Nova Scotia director Fitzgerald makes another movie about a queer outcast who comes home after a long estrangement.

The difference in Splinters is that the outcast is a woman, Belle (Sofia Banzhaf), returning for her father’s funeral and facing the mother (Shelley Thompson) who shunned her when she came out as a lesbian. Only now Belle is in a long-term relationship with a man (Callum Dunphy) and trying to hide it – and him – from her family.

Adapting Lee-Anne Poole’s 2010 stage play, Fitzgerald attempts to open up the action with sentimental visions and unnecessary musical interludes. The movie is best when he steps back and lets Banzhaf hold the screen.

Shifting fluidly between comic frustration and long-buried pain, she’s so good she doesn’t need the extra flourishes for support.   

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