There’s a new director on the block, and her name is Kathleen Hepburn. This debut from the Canadian is an impressive calling card featuring the excellent Shirley Henderson. She’s Judy, who is suffering from escalating Parkinson’s and leading a simple but functional small-town life in British Columbia, only seeking help from her husband when daily tasks become hard to handle. When tragedy strikes, she becomes more reliant on her son Jamie (Théodore Pellerin), a teenager prone to stroppy moments, but who’s pleasingly hard to pin down. Both mother and son are fascinating, well-rounded characters – and in Hepburn’s script, you’re never sure who will be the focus next, or for how long.
As she dips into Jamie’s life with work, friends, and potential girlfriends, Hepburn builds a thoughtful, authentic portrait of an ordinary family struggling to deal with several challenges without complaining, or asking for as much help as they could. There’s no heavy-handed message to it, but plenty of room for thought. In the harsh, cold Canadian landscape and the warm glow of Hepburn’s empathetic writing, these are simply characters you want to spend time getting to know. If you loved the Sally Hawkins-starring ‘Maudie’, this should be your next cinematic discovery.