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TIFF 2018 Review: The Wind

A mashup of genres and politics which never goes deep enough

Westerns as a genre will always be fraught for they are classically centered within settler colonial violence. To depict the people who would “build” North American into what it is, one can either acknowledge that the pioneers were stealing land, displacing populations, and attempting to destroy cultures, or one can disavow this element of the frontier completely, excusing white protagonists and pretending they have no connection to the violence of their situation. The Wind, sadly but expectedly, does the latter.

Caitlin Gerrard stars as Lizzie, a young wife keeping her and her husband’s home on the prairie. After the traumatic death of their only neighbour, Lizzie becomes haunted by ghosts which unsettle her complacency within her gendered role. But the horror element here is lacking.

Poorly conceived ghosts — less scary than they should be — function to challenge Lizzie-as-homemaker, but in challenging patriarchal structures, the film doesn’t consider who set up those very structures. Lizzie as a woman alone on the frontier is meant to be a powerful role, but as a woman participating in the violent nation-building of North America, can we truly find her character to be strong? The film has a conspicuous lack: intent on a political discussion of gender while situating itself within the frontier’s violence, The Wind’s social critique only goes so far.

Chelsea Phillips-Carr

Chelsea Phillips-Carr is a freelance writer from Toronto. She has an MA in cinema studies.