TIFF review: Kuessipan

Myriam Verreault's coming-of-age drama, set on an Innu reservation in Quebec, is quietly moving


KUESSIPAN DISC Myriam Verreault. Canada. 117 min. Sep 8, 9:15 pm, Scotiabank 10 Sep 10, 8:30 pm, AGO Sep 14, 2:45 pm, Scotiabank 6. Rating: NNNN


Friendships, like love affairs, can break your heart. And in the moving coming-of-age drama, Kuessipan, an adaptation of Naomi Fontaine’s novel of the same name, best friends Mikuan (Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao) and Shaniss (Yamie Grégoire) experience both.

On an Innu reservation in Quebec, Mikuan lives a picturesque life with her close-knit family, while Shaniss cares for her alcoholic mother. When Shaniss is sent to live with her aunt, the distance can’t keep them apart. But eventually their friendship is tested.

A devoted teen mom with a volatile partner, Shaniss is in perpetual conflict. Meanwhile, Mikuan’s talent and ambitions have outgrown their small town. Her love affair with a white boy only exacerbates their growing strife.

Verreault’s (West of Pluto and My Tribe Is My Life) pacing is lovely, allowing both lives to be fleshed out, while giving space to numerous quietly special moments like Mikuan and Francis’s first “almost” kiss.

Kuessipan is a beautiful, un-sensationalized look at young womanhood, friendship and community.

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