Standing between their laneways in New Waterford, Nova Scotia, a coal-mining town on Cape Breton, Mooney Pottie (Liane Balaban) gives new-girl-in-town Lou (Tara Spencer Nairn) the grand tour:
"My house; your house. There's the store, the mine, the main drag. Hospital; tavern; church, tavern, church-church-rink-school-trainstation-roadtoSydney."
It's a fitting testament to the dreariness of Mooney's existence, the fourth of five children in a struggling family, but one who displays artistic talent and dreams of leaving, encouraged by her too-young male teacher, (Andrew McCarthy), as the town, like most small towns, and her family threaten to suck her back in.
The movie has a unique Canadian soundtrack and the DIY ethos of a Bruce MacDonald pic, and Balaban in the main role is better than anything I've seen her do since. Gray clouds always loom over these vistas of roaring surf and clotheslines in the cold wind - which is funny in light of the excessivley sunny Newfoundland & Labrador tourism ads all over Canadian TV these days that feature identical shots - and the film seems depressing, for the most part. But somewhere in the middle - no spoilers here! - you find yourself suddenly and strongly rooting for this unconventional character to come into her own, (with help from her new friend). It's a quintessentially Canadian story, and at its core it's not unlike a great many of them, but it's told in a unique way with an ending that's perfect and powerful. A film that takes a bit of time to warm up to as you're watching it, but one that will leave you satisfied. Among the best Canadian flicks I've seen.