TIFF review: Antigone

Sophie Deraspe's modern-day reimagining of the Greek tragedy jolts the viewer out of complacency


ANTIGONE CWC D: Sophie Deraspe. Canada. 109 min. Sep 9, 6 pm, Scotiabank 13 Sep 10, 5:30 pm, Scotiabank 9 Sep 13, 6:15 pm, TIFF 4. Rating: NNNN


In Deraspe’s heartbreaking reimagining of the classic Greek tragedy, Antigone (Nahéma Ricci) is a 17-year-old, straight-A student in Montreal.

After fleeing to Canada as a child after the death of her parents (related to an unspecified conflict in her homeland), Antigone, her grandmother and three siblings build a modest immigrant life for themselves. That all shatters after the police shoot her eldest brother, Étéocle (Hakim Brahimi), and threaten to deport her other brother, Polynice (Rawad El-Zein), for involvement in gang violence.

Loyal to a fault, Antigone hatches a plan to break her brother out of prison before his deportation, which sets off a sequence of events that are out of her control.

The film is an incisive critique of the power imbalance between citizens and immigrants and the hypocrisy of an unjust justice system. It jolts the viewer out of complacency.

Deraspe makes a smart decision to only show the fatal shooting in shaky cellphone-quality images, which illustrates the horror and chaos in the same way people view viral police shooting videos on Twitter.

Ricci proves how she earned a spot on this year’s TIFF Rising Stars list with a performance exhibiting both the immense resolve and unhinged distress of a girl in crisis, fighting to save her family. 

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