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Older Than America.




Subtlety in filmmaking is overrated. Take Georgina Lightning's directorial debut, Older Than America,for example. Here, the lack of subtlety and use of loaded language are straight out of Spike Lee's playbook. What Lightning achieves as a result is a visceral reaction, the sort of rage and frustration that Lee sought in Do The Right Thing and for which Paul Haggis received an Oscar with Crash.

Lightning's hands are all over Older Than America, from camera work to facial expressions. Older Than America is an expose, in the guise of a narrative, of the residential schools established in North America by governments and churches in order to force assimilation upon Aboriginal children.

Protagonist Rain O'Rourke (played by Lightning) is haunted by visions of her mother's experience at a residential school and by memories her aunt (Tantoo Cardinal, Dances With Wolves, Legends of the Fall, known as Auntie Apple for her desire to assimilate the values that the Catholic Church, sought to instill. Against the backdrop of a mayoral election and an earthquake, investigated by a white geologist (Bradley Cooper, The Hangover),the entire community must come to grips with its past.

One of the film's strongest assets is Adam Beach (Smoke Signals), whose performance as Rain's fiance is full of fire and vitality. However, it is the women who power this film: Lighting puts as much power behind her acting as she does into directing. Rose Berens adds intricacy and depth to the film, despite having few lines as Rain's mother, Irene. Cardinal, who has perhaps the most difficult role of all, walks the lines of conflict between faith and family, tradition and assimilation, with nuance and grace.

Lightning's directing propels the film forward. It is the quality of rawness--razor-sharp cuts, impassioned performances and a stripped-down acoustic soundtrack--that makes the project original and vital.

Lightning succeeds in getting her viewers to care about the issue, making this film particularly worthy of accolades.

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Author:Eanet, Lindsay
Article Type:Movie review
Date:Mar 22, 2010
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