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“Woman Walks Ahead” is dutifully respectful to Native American culture and Catherine offers us the white “gateway” perspective to better understand and empathize with the native culture; this is a film that understands exactly the tropes it must use to deliver its story, and gently and gracefully settles into them, through a series of insightful conversations that can empower both marginalized lead characters.
The film does some justice to the stakes that are in play when privileged folks like Catherine try to get involved to make a difference, only to become helpless when colonialist machinations overtake them (it’s hard to give away the ending since we all know the horrendous treatment of Native Americans at that time).
—for the vast majority of the running time, a few brushes with satisfactory filmmaking craft is a moot thing to champion in a film this mucked up.
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We see the story mostly from the perspective of Catherine, whose New York privilege didn’t prepare her for the dusty, Dakota plains and cold, rude, and occasionally physically threatening treatment from locals who believe she’s a spy or activist trying to help the Aboriginal cause and interfere with their politicking.
Narrative problems seem to be a consistent motif at the films playing at TIFF this year.The Ebert Club is our hand-picked selection of content for Ebert fans.You will receive a weekly newsletter full of movie-related tidbits, articles, trailers, even the occasional streamable movie.There were people who must have doubted a young American actress in the director’s chair.But could Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” be anything short of fantastic?
The film’s got a slew of teenage-girl drama beats—dumping her bestie for the popular kid, dating the cool guy who ends up not being so cool, screaming at her mom who’s trying to do right by her but who’s also annoyingly cloying—but somehow Gerwig manages to make the many emotional arcs and moving narrative parts all work flawlessly.