Michaela Kurimsky and Karena Evans are a joy to watch in Jasmin Mozaffari’s “Firecrackers”
Jasmin Mozaffari’s energy-packed drama about small town escape is Delano's pick of the day at Luxembourg City Film Festival.
Teenage angst and anger are familiar territory for cinema, but rarely have they been treated with such fiery energy as in “Firecrackers”. The on-screen source of that frenetic vitality is actress Michaela Kurimsky, who is in Luxembourg to answer questions following this evening’s screening. But the energy is also delivered by director Jasmin Mozaffari, whose use of hand-held camera and close-ups lands the audience right into the action. Kurimsky’s character, Lou, is introduced in the opening scene fighting another girl. Lou is backed up by her best friend, Chantal (Karena Evans), with whom she is planning to escape their small Canadian town thanks to the promise of work in New York.
Of course, things could not be that easy. The girls’ celebrations are rudely interrupted, and their plans then shattered, by the appearance of an ex-boyfriend. But it is not just one incident that spirals out of control that damages these girls--they have long suffered under the male-dominated small-town mentality to which even Lou’s mother has succumbed. Mozaffari, who made a short version of the story as her student film, must resolve the story arc as Lou and Chantal’s own relationship is threatened by circumstances that are sparked by Lou’s unleashed anger but that are then largely beyond their control.
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Some critics have likened “Firecrackers” to Andrea Arnolds’ brilliant “American Honey”, but Lou and Chantal’s story is more like the prologue to the adventure that that film’s lead character Star finds herself falling into. Nonetheless, Mozaffari has shown exciting promise with her debut feature with this exhilarating coming-of-age story.
Kurimsky--a charming and serene presence off screen--carries the film with her in-your-face presence. It is a tour de force performance that earned her a best actress award at last year’s Stockholm Film Festival. But she couldn’t have pulled it off without having great on-screen chemistry with Evans, whose Chantal is the silent but solid rock upon which Lou can find sanctuary, even if she does not always appreciate the fact.
“Firecrackers”, which is in official competition at the festival, should appeal to audiences seeking a film that is ultimately about women overcoming a patriarchal society, girls who seek liberation on their own terms.