Through Black Spruce, also known as simply Black Spruce, tells the story of a Cree family in northern Canada as they struggle with loss and dangerous threats.
Through Black Spruce has two major storylines. Annie Bird (Tanaya Beatty) is a twin. She lives in her northern Ontario home with her family. Annie lives a traditional life, hunting and fishing.
Her twin sister Suzanne went to Toronto, became a successful model, and got caught up with drugs and drug dealers.
No one has heard from Suzanne in months. Annie’s mother, Lisette (Tina Keeper) is worried and frightened. Annie goes to Toronto to search for her sister.
The other major story involves Annie’s uncle Will (Brandon Oakes). He has a big load of guilt and grief to deal with. He tries to do that by drinking too much.
The way these two plot lines intersect is drugs. The people at home that Suzanne helped moved drugs, and the people in Toronto that Suzanne knew who sold drugs have a common goal. Find Suzanne and get the money owed them.
When they can’t find Suzanne, they come after Annie and Will.
We know that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of indigenous women are missing in both Canada and the U.S. Native women are killed at a disproportionate rate and no one seems to care. The most striking image in Through Black Spruce was Annie in Toronto staring at a bulletin board with posters looking for missing women. I think this bulletin board could have much bigger than it was, with many more posters. Even so, it made the point.
Native storytelling isn’t like the white version of stories with a beginning, middle, and end. Three acts and you’re done. Expect things not to be fully resolved at the end of the movie. It’s okay. I thought this was a very good film.
The film is mostly in English, with some native language used – I presume Cree but don’t know for sure.
Here’s the trailer. The film is available on Prime Video and a number of other streamers.
Have you seen this film? What did you think of it?