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#TIFF22 Review: Until Branches Bend (Discovery)

September 10, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to 18th.

The debut film from writer-director Sophie Jarvis, Until Branches Bend is an engaging character study of Robin (Grace Glowicki), a cannery worker in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Robin’s job is to grade peaches, but her life unravels when she finds what she suspects to be an invasive species of insect buried in one of them. She tells her boss (Lochlyn Munro), but he brushes it off and insists that she stay silent, prompting her to seek an outside opinion that results in the cannery being temporarily shut down at the height of growing season.

Despite doing the right thing and reporting the insect, Robin is painted as an enemy within the town and blamed for getting their main industry shut down, impacting her already rocky relationship with her younger sister Laney (Alexandra Roberts), as friends and colleagues start to turn on her. Robin is also pregnant and seeking to terminate the pregnancy. If the combined metaphor of an unplanned pregnancy and a bug in a peach threatens to feel heavy-handed, Jarvis smartly saves it from melodrama with an ominous atmosphere that adds layers to the film.

It’s pretty safe to say that Until Branches Bend won’t be for everyone, but it’s weird and intriguing enough to make it interesting. Jarvis establishes an unsettling tone right from the start, effectively mixing elements of psychological drama and conspiracy thriller. Glowicki fully commits herself to the central role, portraying Robin with the right mix of paranoia and tenacity through a compelling performance. The film is further heightened by Jeremy Cox’s 16mm cinematography, and an eery musical score by Kieran Jarvis that mixes cello, flute and vocals to haunting effect.

Public Screenings:

Saturday, September 10th – 8:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Monday, September 12th – 8:30 PM at Scotiabank 10

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