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#TIFF19 Review: Black Conflux (Discovery)

September 12, 2019

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Set in Newfoundland in the 1980s, Black Conflux follows both a teenaged girl named Jackie (Ella Ballentine), who is navigating the world of high school, and a mentally unstable young man named Dennis (Ryan McDonald), who works in a brewery and has trouble with women. Jackie has started acting recklessly with her friends, getting drunk at parties, playing hooky from school, shoplifting from the mall, and hitchhiking for free rides from strangers. Dennis is lonely and isolated, which has led him to become angry and resentful. This leads to the threat of him actually starting to indulge in the dark fantasies that he plays out with a chorus of subservient women that he keeps hallucinating.

The debut feature from Mississauga-born filmmaker Nicole Dorsey, Black Conflux plays as both a pretty standard coming of age story and a much darker exploration of a tortured young man’s disillusionment with society sending him down a dangerous path. These two separate storylines do sort of converge, but they never quite come together in the way that we think they will, which can make it feel a bit like two separate movies at times. But this is a pretty good directorial debut that shows promise for Dorsey. Her script explores a lot of relevant themes about masculinity and sexual violence, brought to the screen with some moody cinematography by Marie Davignon, and a solid performance from Ballantine at its core.

Ella Ballentine in Black Conflux

Public Screenings:

Friday, September 6th – 6:15 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

Sunday, September 8th – 5:45 PM at Scotiabank Theatre

Saturday, September 14th – 11:30 AM at Scotiabank Theatre


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