In a small Arctic town struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America, a group of Inuit students’ lives are transformed when they are introduced to the sport of lacrosse.
THE GRIZZLIES follows a familiar narrative arc of a group of youth in a depressed social situation with high suicide rates. A white person from outside comes into the situation, is gripped by a passion to improve their lot, introduces a sport, and turns everything around. Some freshness is brought to this genre in THE GRIZZLIES because of the isolated geographical location in an Arctic town, the excellent acting, the potent sociological themes, and the focus on the game of lacrosse. It also has a strong message that a white man coming into another culture and thinking he can just change things with the methods he already knows won’t work. For the “hero”, Russ Sheppard, this leads to a massive failure until he learns to listen to the people he’s trying to help. Characters are well developed and it’s ultimately an inspirational story. As I’ve mentioned above, the theme of suicide features prominently but is handled well as it presents the profound impact these deaths have on the community. It’s directed well by Miranda de Pencier (TV series – Anne with an E) and packs a lot into its 82-minute running time — no scene is wasted. The cinematography of the Arctic town and the tundra landscape is excellent. Despite the difficult themes there is a real sense of transformation that is, after you’re made to feel bad, inspiring. Worth a watch.
(In cinemas in Australia – check your movie guide for your local show times.)