February 19, 2023


2021 / 96 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

Writer-director Christopher Rucinski throws a little shade on the current state of the world. Throughout Northern Shade, he’s consistently dropping references to such hot-button issues as police brutality, Black Lives Matter, COVID safety protocols, racism and the inherent threat of extreme nationalists (he's got a lot to say about those delusional dumbshits). Sometimes the message is subtle, sometimes not. At any rate, his heart is in the right place.

The story itself has traumatized, alcoholic war veteran Justin (Jesse Gavin) searching for his estranged younger brother, Charlie (Joseph Poliquin), after he disappears. He gets some assistance from private detective Frankie (Titania Galliher), who happens to be investigating the disappearance of another person (which could be connected to Charlie’s whereabouts).

Finding Charlie isn’t the problem. He’s fallen in with an extremist militia group led by a psychotic jingoist named Billy (Romano Orzari), and not only does Charlie resent Justin showing up to “save” him, he has no interest in repairing their fractured relationship. However, things take a darker turn when it becomes clear Billy is murdering people who interfere with his agenda (which includes a planned act of domestic terrorism). With local police reluctant to do anything, Justin takes it upon himself to demonstrate some tough love and try to rescue Charlie before it’s too late.

Justin charts his course.
Northern Shade tells a pretty intriguing story, and in light of certain incidents in recent years, perhaps more timely than we’d like it to be. But the film is just as much a character study about Justin living with his own PTSD, stemming from a horrific experience during the war. So while there’s some genuine tension and suspense, Rucinski is obviously has ambitions beyond cranking out just another standard thriller. 

For the most part, he succeeds. More deliberately paced than one might expect, Northern Shade nevertheless maintains interest, though viewers who demand closure probably won’t appreciate the resolution (despite being somewhat inevitable). With interesting characters and earnest performances, this is a small winner all around.


IN MEMORY OF ROB DENARO - A short tribute to the guy who loaned them the boat used in the film.



No comments: