People are voting emotionally.
If the ambition is to provide two hours of instantly forgettable, popcorn-munching escapism, it succeeds.
In truth, there is barely enough story here to make a film.
The movie's neither hopeful in contrived ways, nor hopeless in different contrived ways. Somehow it manages to be wonderful
Based on the novel by Richard Wagamese: in the 1960s, Saul Indian Horse (played at different times by Sladen Peltier, Forrest Goodluck, and Ajuawak Kapashesit) is an indigenous boy in northern Ontario who is forced into a Catholic residential school where he eventually develops exceptional skills as a hockey player.In addition to successfully focusing on a personal story that reflects probably the worst part of Canada's history (more on that later), "Indian Horse" fascinates in some segments that involve conflicting values. One involves generations of an indigenous family in which an elder practices traditional spirituality while the younger adult generation (brainwashed in residential schools) insists that Christianity is the only acceptable belief system. In later scenes, interpretations of Christianity itself present a conflict in the residential school. On the one hand is a reforming priest who believes in a compassionate approach to the children; on the other is a nun (a true creature from hell) whose approach is literal and uses any means necessary to "Christianize" the children.The film's conclusion is quite touching in its recollection of Saul's difficult past as he tries to come to terms with it.The fact this film was made and distributed (and playing for more than a month in some theatres) is a victory in itself - not only because it is a film of good quality but mainly for frankly addressing some of the worst parts of Canadian history - recent and not so recent. Hopefully, similar stories will be told.
Every Canadian needs to watch this movie to learn of Canada's actual history towards the Indigenous people or as I would say "The First People" of this country. Perhaps if people watched this movie they would get a better understanding of what the government has done to generations of Canada's First People.
It was a heart-wrenching well acted movie. It showed briefly how disgusting the residential school life/death would have been for these youth. How self-righteous the priests & nuns really were despite the sexual abuse, cruelty & inhumanity they displayed towards children in their "care"...all the while insisting it was in the name of their GOD!
I actually had a chance to meet Richard Wagamese very shortly before he died; he was an inspirational figure. I knew he had written novels about the residential school experience. Soon we're going to get the great Canadian film about the tragedy, but so far there haven't been many attempts. Indian Horse seemed like a promising candidate, but falls short.In ways a sports movie as much (or more) than a story about the residential schools, Indian Horse rarely rises above TV movie-level in its direction. There are some great shots- the first glimpse of the nun coldly looking down on the children, flashbacks when toys are being thrown onto the ice and how these toys blend into the memories- but these are few. The film starts off with a strong look at the cruelties of the school under Catholic control, but veers from that. (Incidentally, Canada's association of Catholic bishops recently released a letter denying involvement in residential schools. This is a blatant lie, or put in their words, bearing false witness under God). Part of the drift away from a strong film involves the less-than-stellar performance of Ajuawak Kapashesit. This is a decent film, but we should be looking for more.