Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 36m
Director(s): Christopher Rucinski
Writer(s): Christopher Rucinski
Cast: Jesse Gavin, Joseph Poliquin, Titiana Galliher, Alejandro Bravo, Romano Orzari, Rose Marie Guess
Where To Watch: premiering theatrically at Laemmle Monica and NoHo Cinemas in Los Angeles and via virtual cinema on February 24, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: NORTHERN SHADE is a film that will leave a lasting impression, showcasing the talents of writer-director Christopher Rucinski and his ability to craft a thought-provoking story that delves into the themes of purpose, redemption, and the aftermath of trauma.
The film is set amid the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a unique and intriguing perspective on the world during this time. We follow Justin McLaughlin, played by Jesse Gavin, a former Army veteran, as he journeys to find his missing younger brother, Charlie, and save him from the dangerous world of an extremist militia. Justin is a complex character, struggling with his past military experiences and his battle with alcoholism. However, through his journey, he begins to rediscover his sense of purpose and resilience.
Alongside Justin, we meet Frankie, an interesting character played by Titania Galliher, investigating a disappearance that may be connected to Charlie's case. Frankie, a former cop, is tough and determined, and her slow revelation of why she left the police force provides a poignant commentary on police brutality and its effects on those who serve.
NORTHERN SHADE tackles the rise of extreme nationalism and the dangers such groups pose to society and individuals. As Justin and Frankie dig deeper into the mystery of Charlie's disappearance, they face the risks of an extremist militia preparing for the unknown. This is one of the most timely films I’ve seen; between COVID, and the inclusion of extremist groups, the film doesn’t shy away from tackling subjects many find divisive.
With 35% of the cast and crew being military veterans, the film brings a sense of authenticity to the story. While some awkward moments and a few plot points could have been polished, the film overcomes these issues in stride.
This was a mirror of real-world events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike other films that tried to force the pandemic into the story, the masks and other elements felt natural and unforced in NORTHERN SHADE. Again, this is a timely film that captures the world's current zeitgeist as it has been for the last several years.
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[photo courtesy of BAYVIEW ENTERTAINMENT]