#VIWFF2020 Blog 3: “Black Conflux” Film Review

#VIWFF2020 Blog 3: “Black Conflux” Film Review

Written by: Katrina Mugume

Black Conflux, the exciting debut feature from Canadian filmmaker Nicole Dorsey, is no ordinary coming of age drama set in late 1980’s Newfoundland. Nature and nurture, predator and prey mirror a small town where the lives of two troubled teenagers intersect. Dorsey explores issues of toxic masculinity, painful assimilation, and actions with far-reaching consequences, whilst constantly subverting our expectations of the genre. 

15-year-old Jackie (the protagonist played by Ella Ballentine), is a girl on the cusp of womanhood. An unremarkable and lonesome student, she has a passion for singing in the choir. Unguided by her alcoholic guardian, however, she is increasingly intrigued by drugs, partying, sex and the wilder thrills of youth that could affirm her to the popular crowd.

“The combined power of the editing structure and cinematography from Marie Davignon in this film cannot go amiss. For what seems like two alternate existences, is, in fact, a star crossed path.”

28-year-old Dennis, (the antagonist played by Ryan McDonald) is a local outsider. Being the easy victim of people’s jokes, he has become increasingly angry and detached from society. In his private life, however, his mental health struggles and a myriad of dreams and memories reveal the fictional world of an incel where he is both worshipped and emasculated by visions of women known and unknown, spurring his increasingly insidious feelings and fantasies about women. 

The combined power of the editing structure and cinematography from Marie Davignon in this film cannot go amiss. For what seems like two alternate existences, is, in fact, a star crossed path. The majority of the plot that inter-cuts between the evolving circumstances motivating each character, paints Jackie’s journey as naive and spontaneous while Dennis’ own is calculated and dark. Dorsey however, is still able to slowly unravel the similarities that explain their connection. 

In the end, an overwrought situation is set up and unexpectedly turned on its head. In what can be read as a hard critique of the genre’s conventions, a feminist shift is able to reclaim the plot and fate of our characters. 

-Katrina Mugume

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