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article imageReview: TIFF 2018: ‘Firecrackers’ delivers a feisty, genuine experience Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 11, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Firecrackers’ explores the consequences of being an independent, spirited young woman in a small town that values its men more.
Being a teenage girl often feels like a trial, but it’s one that seems to be getting more difficult… or at least more people are now acknowledging the problems unique to being a young woman in a patriarchal society. Social media and technology have certainly been game changers as immediacy has grown paramount, judgements are delivered more freely and typical adolescent mistakes have gained a permanency that has long-term consequences. In Firecrackers, two young women are desperate to escape the oppression they feel in their small town, but even the best laid plans can be upended.
Chantel (Karena Evans) and Lou (Michaela Kurimsky) are best friends and their connection to each other is about the only thing making life bearable at the moment — that and that right after school ends, they plan to get a fresh start in New York. When some unwanted guests, including Chantel’s ex-boyfriend, crashes their celebration, something bad happens and their trip is delayed… for the first time. Then, either due to the interference of others or their own poor decision-making, their getaway plan starts to look more like a pipedream.
This is writer/director Jasmine Mozaffari’s feature debut, based on a short film she produced a few years earlier. She uses her female protagonists to illustrate the struggles of a woman who wants more in a community that openly prescribes a woman’s role as “property.” When they attempt to make their own decisions and choose independence, the backlash is resounding and comes from all directions. The presiding sentiments seem to be that wanting, or worse expecting, better and rejecting societal norms can only result in harming in oneself.
None of this is to say Chantel and Lou are the most likeable characters, but most rebellious teenagers aren’t always pleasant to be around. However, one can sympathize with their circumstances and appreciate why they’re so anxious to escape — either physically or through drugs and alcohol. It’s this desperation that causes them to take careless risks and potentially further jeopardize their futures; but unless they can change their present, the future has become irrelevant.
The film was shot with an almost all-female key crew, which subconsciously enhances the picture as the set could empathize with the girls and their desire to break-free in all of its glory and ugliness. Evans and Kurimsky are wonderful in their respective roles, portraying strong-minded, explosive young women who will not submit to the forces trying to keep them down or prevent them from being who they want to be rather than who they’re expected to be. This tug of war leads to their Thelma and Louise moment, which is somewhat dichotomous since it’s both exceptionally freeing and ultimately incarcerating.
Firecrackers had its world premiere in the Discovery category at the Toronto International Film Festival. Don’t miss the rest of our TIFF 2018 coverage.
Director: Jasmin Mozaffari
Starring: Michaela Kurimsky, Karena Evans and Callum Thompson
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