Pasatiempo - - OBJECTS OF ART - The Saver The Saver

When Fern (Ima­jyn Car­di­nal) is six­teen, her mother has a fatal heart at­tack on the way home from her job as a clean­ing lady, so head­strong and stub­born Fern drops out of school to sup­port her­self and avoid Youth Pro­tec­tion. It is win­ter in Mon­treal, a time of bru­tally cold weather that hand­ily sym­bol­izes Fern’s iso­la­tion and her stunned lack of af­fect. At first she cleans for her mother’s clients, telling them that she is fill­ing in be­cause her mother is sick. In one of the homes, she filches a book on how to be­come a mil­lion­aire and quickly de­ter­mines to save a lit­tle ev­ery day, un­til she reaches that magic num­ber, so as not to end up work­ing her­self to death for other peo­ple.

It’s a good plan in the­ory, but Fern is quickly in over her head. She lies about her age to get a job as a build­ing su­per­in­ten­dent so she can live rent-free. She is good at keep­ing the run-down build­ing clean, but she doesn’t know any­thing about re­pair and main­te­nance, and some of the ten­ants are hos­tile with their de­mands. To save money on food, she gets an­other job in a res­tau­rant, but she is al­ways run­ning late. Her boss, Hami­dou (Hami­dou Savadogo) is car­ing and friendly, but he also needs de­pend­able em­ploy­ees, and Fern is just barely get­ting by phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally. She is con­stantly ex­hausted, and she is be­ing ag­gres­sively courted by a skeevy twen­tysome­thing guy named Jeff (the un­set­tlingly good Alexan­dre Landry), who thinks she needs to “have some fun.” When her mother’s brother Jack (Bran­don Oakes), shows up to visit and pay his re­spects, Fern is wary of trust­ing this hulk­ing man she doesn’t know, a guy who used to drink too much and break the law but who now seems to have a spir­i­tu­ally wis­esound­ing an­swer to ev­ery­thing. Writ­ten and di­rected by Wiebke von Carols­feld,

is based on a young adult novel by Edeet Ravel. Fern’s Cana­dian First Na­tions iden­tity isn’t part of the plot, but strains of clas­sism and the var­i­ous un­stated bi­ases of the peo­ple with whom she in­ter­acts run through­out the movie, as do Fern’s own prej­u­dices. This com­pelling and un­abashed tear-jerker is di­rect about the dan­ger Fern is in but never graphic

The Saver

or need­lessly cruel. Per­for­mances are so nat­u­ral that

some­times feels like a doc­u­men­tary — though at cer­tain cru­cial mo­ments, the plot twists are a lit­tle too on the nose, as if there weren’t enough time to let the story un­fold more nat­u­rally. But this is a small quib­ble in a well-acted, in­ter­est­ing movie that has great ap­peal for teenagers and their par­ents. Car­di­nal plays Fern as stoic, some­one who prefers to take things in rather than give any­thing away. Her fear of be­ing sent to foster care keeps her from telling any­one what she is go­ing through. But if she can’t let her guard down with the right peo­ple and ad­mit she needs help, she will most def­i­nitely fol­low in her mother’s foot­steps. — J.L.

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