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Parallel Universes 

What Trailer Park Boys has in common with Crackie

Parallels in tone, motifs, stories, etc. is emerging as a recurring theme among the films I've already seen at this year's Fest (4 so far). Today, I saw the the gritty yet beguiling entry from NFLD, Crackie. Following young Mitsie (Meaghan Greely, not 'Kristie' Booth as it says in the AFF guide. Kristen Booth makes an appearance, though) as she awkwardly begins her college hairdressing training while warring with the woman who raised her, her nan (the indomitable Mary Walsh), mostly spurred on by her misplaced loyalty to her shifty mother (Cheryl Wells).

Mitsie and Bride (Walsh's character) live in poverty in a ramshackle town, under skies that are always grey. Mitsie's coming-of-age isn't the care-free romp of American teen classics (though I don't mean to trivialize the sometimes grimness and struggles in those stories when I make the comparison); we don't get a sense that Mitsie has formed dreams for herself yet (she mumbles about owning her own hair salon, but I got the impression she was simply grasping for an answer when her instructor asked what she wanted in life), she lowers herself when she vies for the affections of a scum bag (Joel Thomas Hynes) and fights for love and attention from her loutish mother. But don't think that this film is a voyeuristic chronicle of a young woman's emotional masochism. At the end of the film, I think Mitsie realizes herself that the problems I described previously are things she needs to address as he moves forward. She has re-evaluated where her emotional loyalty should lie and gained a sense of self-worth. I think that counts as a happy, satisfying ending.

So, what does this film have in common with Trailer Park Boys? It's another entry into the storied cannon of Atlantic filmmaking about the underclasses of our country. TPB and Crackie portray poverty not as something the audience should recognize as terrible, or ask us to sympathize, but rather as simply what it is; the world the characters live in. TPB and Crackie are vibrant worlds with emotional losses and gains. The characters in both films don't have the impression that they are at a disadvantage; their arcs involve doing right by themselves and the people that love them.

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