The Lesser Blessed had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 9, 2012. The film received a standing ovation and there wasn’t a dry eye in the packed theatre!
Directed by Anita Doron, who happens to be a dear friend of mine and a mom of one adorable boy, The Lesser Blessed is an adaptation of Richard Van Camp’s critically acclaimed novel.
The film (and the book) is a powerful coming-of-age story of Larry Sole (played by newcomer Joel Evans) who is a Tlicho Indian growing up in the small northern town of Fort Simmer in Northwest Territories.
The shy and quirky Larry is bullied daily by Darcy (Adam Butcher) who knows all about Larry’s horrific past and taunts him with what he knows. But when the new kid, the Métis Johnny Beck (Kiowa Gordon), arrives at school, he stands up to Darcy and befriends Larry.
Their friendship becomes more complicated when Johnny hooks up with Larry’s big crush, Juliet Hope (Chloe Rose). Larry’s mother Verna (Tamara Podemski) and her sometime boyfriend Jed (Benjamin Bratt) have a tumultuous relationship but seem to make it work.
Doron has such a compassion and sensitivity for the teenage characters and their struggles. She has a powerful way of depicting rural life in northern Canada and the characters’ hardships. Larry’s torturous past is revealed slowly yet dramatically through visions and dreams laced with traditional folklore.
Gordon is perfectly cast as the suave, rebellious new kid who befriends Larry and snags his dream girl. Bratt portrays Jed with raw masculinity and deep inner strength. Evans makes a wonderful debut as Larry.
The Lesser Blessed is a stark, dark and yet often funny depiction of a native teenager trying to forget his past and find his place. It is one of the best films I’ve recently seen.
Some photos from the premiere: