Screened at Toronto last year, this film was an immediate hit with audiences and critics, and it’s not hard to see why. Following in the very impressive footsteps of Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk), director Clement Virgo has constructed an eloquent, sometimes barely verbal account of a Black family living in Scarborough (a suburb of Toronto) in the 1990s. Ruth (Marsha Shipman Blake) has to work nights to earn enough to keep food on the table for herself and her two sons – Francis and Michael.
As he gets older, Francis (mostly played by Aaron Pierre) grows increasingly frustrated by the lack of opportunities, and begins to drift away from his family, while still trying to act as the protective older brother to Michael, and the man of the family to replace his absent father. Meanwhile, Michael, who idolises Francis, is also trying to move out of the shadow of a brother who is big, handsome and universally popular.
It’s an exceptional film, which switches seamlessly between different time periods, allowing us (the audience) to fully participate in the kind of life they have and have had; underlying it all is a creeping sense of unease for what may happen to two young men who have so little going for them in the way of a better life.
Disclaimer: This film contains scenes of violence, racial discrimination and police brutality.