The Maiden (2022) Venice Film Festival 2022

September 6th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Graham Foy | Drama, Canada 106′

Two Canadian teenagers are enjoying the summer holidays when their fun ends in tears in this luminous feature debut from Edmonton-born filmmaker Graham Foy. What starts as a simple buddy movie soon becomes a transformative journey into an oasis of tranquility in a film that explores friendship and all kinds of human relationships in the real world, and beyond.

Kyle (Jackson Sluiter) and his friend Colton (Marcel Jimenez) are typical teenagers experimenting with danger. Skateboarding as fast as they can through a local housing estate, their summer days are spent letting off steam in Alberta’s lush countryside. Mucking around on an abandoned building site they discover a dead cat, and Colton, by far the more sensitive of the two boys, gives the animal a ‘spiritual send-off’ on a flower-covered raft in the fast-flowing river nearby. Kyle’s sudden death forces Colton to reflect on the meaning of friendship and he retreats into  himself and into nature in a typical response to extreme grief.

Once the rambunctious Kyle is out of the way, the film finds a peaceful equilibrium in this lyrical look at growing up in a close-knit, largely rural community living in the vast open landscapes of Western Canada. There’s a remoteness here that somehow resonates with the bewilderment of being a teenager, and a symmetry in the vast, silent corridors of the college campus that brings to mind another Canadian-set feature, The Shining. 

Tentatively exploring the aftermath to tragedy, the fragility of friendship and the traumatic transition from childhood to adult life, Foy’s resolutely placid feature debut provides a space to reflect on the transcendent themes of loss, and the meaning of life and death in a memorable piece of filmmaking that drifts into the surreal with its dreamlike images and visionary occasional score. MT


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