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Canadian Film Fest Review: Range Roads

April 17, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

When we first meet Frankie (Alana Hawley Purvis) in the very good homegrown drama Range Roads, which is closing the virtual Canadian Film Fest tonight, her face is painted white and she is wearing a bright red wig, playing the over the top role of a queen on a campy children’s television show. It’s a fitting introduction because it shows the mask she has been forced to wear.

Frankie is pulled away from the set (and its unreasonably demanding producers) when both her parents are killed in a car accident. While she hadn’t really been close to either of them for years, Frankie, who relocated to Vancouver to become an actor, travels back to her hometown of rural Alberta for their funeral. It’s here that she reunites with her brother Grayson (Joe Perry) and his young family. The two siblings have grown estranged, not because they inherently dislike each other, but more because they realized they didn’t have much in common and just sort of drifted apart. But Frankie and Grayson are brought together to settle the estate.

There is an obligatory “family secret” that gets revealed partway through, and a lesser version of this film might have descended into melodrama at this point. But Kyle Thomas, who wrote and directed Range Roads, instead goes for a quieter and more stripped bare approach, and his film is all the more effective for it. I was impressed by how nimbly he handles the film’s characters and different storylines, exploring themes of grief and forgiveness in an intimate and believable way, and delivering several genuinely touching scenes. The result is a tender family drama, built around a strong performance by Purvis.

Alana Hawley Purvis and Chad Brownlee in Range Roads

Range Roads is screening tonight on Super Channel at 9:00 PM and 12:00 AM (EDT) as the closing night film of the 2021 Canadian Film Fest. More info and screening details can be found right here.

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