The first time Frances Fisher’s character appears The King’s FloodShe is hunched over, uncommunicative, crushed by life and perhaps a stroke. When the main action begins ten years later, she is a radiant image of New Agey vim and power, and the island where she lives has been transformed. No one fears illness anymore because all discomforts and injuries are alleviated by the miraculous healing powers of a little girl. The small population is united and harmonious – until the little girl’s powers wane.
In this story full of strong atmosphere and well-drawn characters, an isolated community discovers an otherworldly source of harmony, and the North Atlantic environment is as distinctive as any of the villagers. Director Christian Sparkes films in the small town of Keels, Newfoundland (Hammer) dives straight into an atmosphere of crisis and foreboding with scenes of a pregnant woman’s bloody miscarriage and a disruptive storm. The crashing waves are filmed in rich darkness by cinematographer Mike McLaughlin, with the sultry cellos of Andrew Staniland’s score accentuating the unease. Even when a mysterious child washes up on the island’s shores, offering more promise than anyone can imagine, the unrest on the horizon never quite disappears.
The King’s Flood
It comes down to
Effectively creepy and insightful.
Location: Toronto International Film Festival (platform)
Form: Clayne Crawford, Frances Fisher, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Aden Young, Alix West Lefler, Michael Greyeyes
Screenwriters: William Woods, Albert Shin
Director: Christian Sparks
1 hour 43 minutes
The man who rescued the baby from the flood, not long after his wife’s miscarriage, is the town’s mayor, Bobby Bentham (Clayne Crawford, from The murder of two lovers), and with the villagers’ blessing, he and Grace (Lara Jean Chorostecki) adopted the child. But in addition to being welcomed into a loving home, Isla (Alix West Lefler) has also been given a higher purpose, mainly through Bobby’s mother-in-law, Faye (Fisher). The sweet-natured 10-year-old is a kind of fountain of youth incarnate. Just by being in her presence, even when she sleeps, you are immersed in healing, protective energy. Under Faye’s supervision, villagers line up for ‘visits’ at Isla, timed sessions designed to wash away their aches, pains and worries.
Isla is the salvation and secret of the islanders. Not only does it make their wounds and hangovers go away, but it also ensures that there is always enough cod to feed them. (She puts her hand in the water and the fish swarm to her to be scooped up by the nets; her powers are not favorable to all living beings.) Isla’s gifts, as used by the adults, have allowed the island to sever all ties to the mainland – no telephones, radio or TV (this is a story set in the pre-digital age) . This separation reflects their self-sufficiency, but their determination also prevents the authorities from interfering in their Shangri-la.
Everything goes well, until a devastating event occurs that Isla cannot prevent or reverse. Traumatized by her failure to save one of her classmates, she finds her talent for healing dormant. Bobby calls for the visits to be suspended to give his daughter time to rest and recover. But Faye – who, it becomes clear, has positioned himself as a kind of stealth mayor – plays the democracy card and leads a vote that stops his plan. It seems that Isla doesn’t just belong to Bobby and Grace, but to everyone.
The rifts soon become apparent, as the village doctor, widower Beau Holland (an excellent Aden Young, from Rectify), which provides the most consistent and consistently discarded voice of reason. Unneeded since Isla’s arrival, and thus given to drink, Beau looks at the revered but exploited girl and sees a vulnerable child, one who happens to be the best friend of his kind-hearted son Junior (Cameron Nicoll). Fishermen Dillon (Ryan McDonald) and Marlon (Michael Greyeyes) look at Isla and see the only way to save the town from starvation when greedy trawlers from the mainland deplete the fishery. Charlotte (Kathryn Greenwood) sees the talisman that has freed her from the fear that she will succumb to the same disease that killed her mother. They, along with most of their neighbors, are willing to wait for Isla’s presents to return, but in the meantime, they can’t bear the thought of disrupting the routines that bring them comfort.
Based on a screenplay by William Woods and Albert Shin, Sparkes reveals scene by scene how secluded the village has become, and how confident most of its residents are of the exalted status Isla has granted them. In Crawford’s taut performance, Bobby is torn between devotion to his family and to the townspeople, increasingly falling out with both once Grace sides with her mother. The growing divide pits a clandestine minority against the rest, those who are determined not to return to the way things were before Isla’s aura blessed them, and who will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening. One couple (Ben Stranahan and Amelia Manuel) plan an escape, while Beau’s long-dormant resistance surfaces in the portable TV he has saved and kept in working order, an artifact he shares with a fascinated Junior and Isla.
The story progresses through an unfolding series of interactions that could be closer, while the score, which is effective at key moments in deepening the atmosphere of clashing interests, is too emphatically layered into different sequences – and unnecessarily, the performances lacking emotional require a nudge or an emotional nudge. increased tension.
Sparkes gives Lefler a quiet, unassuming performance as an innocent who tries to distinguish the truth from lies, and who feels a sense of responsibility and importance beyond her years, along with a daunting sense of guilt when her powers fail her. Even if only in short bursts, Isla can also be a playful child, especially when interacting with Junior, played endearingly by Nicoll. In important ways, Lefler’s controlled performance goes hand in hand with the enigmatic cunning that Fisher brings to Faye, the person perhaps most revitalized by the mysterious child.
Whether the characters are outspoken or cunning, all the performances are in sync with the rugged seclusion of the setting, as are the rustic and old-world aesthetics of the production design (by Adriana Bogaard) and costumes (Charlotte Reid). Set against the wild natural beauty, calls for “solidarity” are coded warnings against dissent, and promises of “a safe place” are, as Beau drunkenly and accurately declares, a load of nonsense. But whatever punishment he receives, he ensures that two wide-eyed children get a glimpse of a bigger world. Within the insular community of The King’s Floodgrainy footage of Grandma Clampett railing against her neighbors in Beverly Hills is pure subversion.
Location: Toronto Film Festival (platform)
Production companies: Woods Entertainment, Sara Fost Pictures
Cast: Clayne Crawford, Frances Fisher, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Aden Young, Alix West Lefler, Michael Greyeyes, Ryan McDonald, Cameron Nicoll, Ben Stranahan, Amelia Manuel, Kathryn Greenwood, Emily Piggford, Erika Dietz, Willow Kean
Director: Christian Sparkes
Screenwriters: William Woods, Albert Shin
Story: Ryan Grassby, Kevin Coughlin
Producers: William Woods, Allison White
Executive Producers: Tom Spriggs, Rob McGillivray, Ben Stranahan, John Hansen, Albert Shin, Christian Sparkes, William Clarke, Andy Mason, Mark Runagall, Mark Gingras, John Laing, Harry Grivakis, Javi Hernandez, Claire Peace-McConnell, Ernie Grivakis, Maddy Falle, Amanda MacDonald, Alona Metzer, Alex Ordanis
Director of Photography: Mike McLaughlin
Production designer: Adriana Bogaard
Costume Designer: Charlotte Reid
Editor: Justin Oakey
Music: Andrew Staniland
Casting: Angela Demo, Stephanie Gorin
Sales: Sales of height films
1 hour 43 minutes