Falls Around Her is a story about a world famous First Nations Anishinaabe singer. I was quite excited when I discovered it on Prime Video, because it stars long-time favorite Tantoo Cardinal in her first role as a lead character.
In Falls Around Her, musician Mary Birchbark (Tantoo Cardinal) walks away from her career in mid tour. She returns to her roots and lives in a cabin her grandmother built. The movie was filmed at Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, White Fish Lake First Nation, Ontario, Canada. The woods, the village, the lakes and streams were beautiful and just what Mary needed to nourish her soul.
Mary’s manager, Keith (Rob Stewart), was violently angry about his moneymaker walking away from her career.
She walks in the woods, she fixes up the cabin, she reconnects with her sister Betty (Tina Keeper) and other members of her family. She flirts a bit with Albert (Johnny Issaluk). She gets involved in protests against a mining company that is poisoning the water. Mary is happy here and has no intention of ever going back to the life of a touring musician.
When her guitarist Hal (J.D. Nicholsen) appears at her door, she’s very glad to see him. They spend several nights together before he has to get back to the tour.
But strange things are happening around the cabin. There are boot tracks and a blue dress is left on Mary’s bed. Mary accuses Albert of doing it, but it wasn’t him. She sets clever traps to find and stop whoever is trying to scare her.
Falls Around Her was written and directed by Darlene Naponse. Naponse is an Ojibway woman from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. As a writer, she’s telling a story about her own people. As a director, she created quiet moments with Mary as Mary opens up to the trees, the sky, the water, and the land for the peace she needs.
The film wasn’t all quiet moments however. There was humor, family, romance, and exciting action. Mary has an interesting conversation with her sister Betty about the woman Betty wants to marry. I was very happy to see how excellent Tantoo Cardinal was at all of it.
The beautiful music in the film was by Julian Cote.
Take a look at the trailer.
If you watch this one, I’d love to hear your reactions to it in the comments below.