A post-apocalyptic tale about a young black woman who is trapped in a world forced upon her. Ti-Jeanne, a reluctant priestess, must resurrect Caribbean spirits and survive the possession ritual that killed her mother or her people will die. The fantasy elements of Brown Girl Begins have their basis in Caribbean folklore, inspired by Nalo Hopkinson's award winning novel, Brown Girl in the Ring. It's 2049 and Toronto the Good has been taken over by the wealthy, who have built a wall around the city and expelled the poor to an island off the coast, known as The Burn. The segregated Burn dwellers have been forced to scrape out a living by bartering, recycling, and farming. Mami is the unspoken leader of the Burn, sharing her Caribbean herb lore and leading her followers in an ancient spiritual practice. Ti-Jeanne turns 19 and the time has come for her to succeed her grandmother and become a Priestess. When Mami tries to prepare her to take part in the same possession ceremony that killed ...
Directed by: Sharon Lewis
. Starring: Mouna Traoré
, Nigel Shawn Williams
, Shakura S'Aida
, Emmanuel Kabongo
, Allison Augustin
, Danielle Ayow
, Measha Brueggergosman
, Hannah Chantée
, Alli Chung
, Rachael Crawford
, Joey DeCarle
, Sonia Dhillon Tully
, Leon Elkaim
. Music by: Aaron Ferrera
It's trying to adapt Sci-fi with an absolutely minuscule budget. It's props don't look like much beyond props, the location struggles to feel like anything futuristic or dystopian, and the special effects are limited (luckily not used enough to become distracting.)
The writing is weak, there are a lot of moments where it's unclear what's happening and exposition is often delivered in clunky or even non-sensical ways such as characters reciting what to them is common knowledge out loud, on one occasion even "studying" basic common knowledge elements to their world, this "studying" being completely irrelevant to what it was supposed to be for later. Additionally the main character is often presented with a conflict only to be handed a solution not five minutes later with no buildup or even explanation as to where said solution came from.
The performances are really scattershot. Some are pretty good, some are a little awkward, one is amazing, and a couple are almost unbearably awful. Of these the lead is a little out of their depth, often having weak delivery or just feeling a little... off in major emotional scenes.
If there's a proper positive I can give it, the cinematography is pretty great and main character's spiritual allyfrenemy really is a great performance worthy of experiencing.
What I have to acknowledge though is the film was a passion project for almost everyone involved and took a long time to get done. It's also one of the first entirely Toronto made films to get major media attention and it's attempting to be a genre that hasn't really been brought to film in any well known films (Mystical Sci-Fi)
The movie is a little overly ambitious. It tries to do a lot with very little money and a very limited runtime and it comes short of those lofty goals 910 times but if it's an awkward first step toward not only the cast and crew being able to improve but for more Toronto based writers, directors, producers, and actors being able to make films I'm not going to knock it for trying.
Review by tlannington from the Internet Movie Database.