REVIEW: Cardinals a pot-boiler with dramatic heft


This Canadian film about an ex-con who learns serving time doesn’t mean all is forgiven is an intimate portrayal into what happens after release.

Sheila McCarthy is a revelation as Valerie Walker, a mother and wife who goes to prison after hitting and killing her neighbour in a drunk driving accident.

As her children adjust to bringing her back home, and she tries to put the pieces back together, the family realizes Valerie’s actions created a ripple of change for others.

Namely, the deceased man’s son, Mark, isn’t quite satisfied with how the justice system worked. He continues to look for closure, and even seeks out the Walkers to clear things up.

As tensions reach a boiling point, inconsistencies and Valerie’s version of events mount, and her relationship with her parole officer becomes more and more contentious.

Sheila McCarthy is the absolute steward of this film, with her rough demeanour and chippy existence eroding away the fake normalcy put on by everyone else’s characters.

She brings doubt, fear, and frustration into every scene, and the look on her face and expressions sometimes say more than she physically does.

Family struggles, external issues and the shadowy ghost of the dead man (in the form of Mark’s inquisitive mind) just won’t let Valerie get away.

Noah Reid, mostly known as a supporting player on CBC show Schitt’s Creek, shows a tragic depth and range I wasn’t aware he had here.

This is a beautiful film about revenge, repentance and whether there should be forgiveness for all crimes.

You should know as little as possible going in for full effect. This one’s a stunner.

4/5 Stars

 

 


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