Once Upon a River (2018)

Kenadi DelaCerna, John Ashton, Tatanka Means, Ajuawak Kapashesit,
Once Upon a River is a movie starring Kenadi DelaCerna, John Ashton, and Tatanka Means. Margo Crane's odyssey on the Stark River introduces her to a world filled with wonders and dangers.
  • 5.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Bonnie Jo Campbell, Writer:
  • Haroula Rose, Director:
  • Jacqueline E. Ingram, Producer:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

10 / 10

Intriguing characters. Outstanding River scenes and sounds.

Saw this at the Woodstock Film Festival at its New York Premiere and glad I came out in the rain to see it. The Nature cinematography alone makes it worth the trip to the theater. You feel like you're at the river including the sounds of the outdoors. Music soundtrack is soft and minimal so the sounds of the river can come through.The story is a bit dark as this young girl looks for her mother to escape her cruel reality. Lots of warm moments as she connects with various characters along the way.It makes you care for these people and give hope for Margo's destiny.Her adopted friend Smoke ( John Ashton) steals the scenes and provides sprinkles of humor to lighten the mood.

7 / 10

working the river

Greetings again from the darkness. Haroula Rose is an extraordinary talent. She's a singer, actor, writer, producer, and director, and she's continuing to prove she's very good at all of the above. This is her first time directing a feature length film, and she also adapted the screenplay from the popular 2011 novel written by Bonnie Jo Campbell. The film has a unique look and feel, yet is so accessible we are drawn in from the stunning opening shots.

Kenadi DelaCerna stars as Margo Crane, a teenage Native American living on the Stark River with her beloved father (Tatanka Means, "Banshee"). Taking place in 1977 rural Michigan, the film shows Margo's father teaching her how to hunt and fish, and honing her sharpshooter eye with a rifle. We learn that a year ago, Margo's mother left a note explaining that she had to "find" herself, though other rumors circulate through the small community. This abandonment is only the first of many unfortunate situations Margo must face. Two of these involve her father's half-brother Cal (Coburn Goss, MAN OF STEEL), a demented, yet powerful man in town - and his two entitled sons. The most tragic event pushes 15 year old Margo to set off down the river by herself (with her "Annie Oakley" biography), in hopes of locating her mother.

At this point, it's tempting to label this a 'coming-of-age' story, and while it is that, it's also much more. Margo's journey finds her crossing paths with Will (Ajuawak Kapashesit), a Native American researching his roots, and Smoke (John Ashton, BEVERLY HILLS COP), a grumpy old codger with emphysema. In the simplest of terms, Margo is a teenage runaway, but there's nothing simple about Margo. Along the way, she's discovering life lessons and finding out what she's really made of. One of the most stunning moments (and there are a few) occurs when Margo tracks down her mother (Lindsay Pulsipher, "True Blood"), and calls her out on the lie she told to "find" herself a shiny new life. When the mother asks Margo, if Cal ever asks about her, I nearly fell out of my chair. That line carries so much weight.

The cinematography from Charlotte Hornsby delivers the breathtaking beauty of nature, as well as the pain and intimacy of the characters. Even the music of Zac Rae follows the travails of Margo as she continues on. We are accustomed to seeing grizzled men living off the land and making their own way, but not teenage girls. The closest comparison I can come up with is Debra Granik's superb 2010 WINTER'S BONE, which introduced many of us to Jennifer Lawrence. Here, it's Kenadi DelaCerna, with her first acting credit, who carries a difficult film. It's fascinating to watch her skin a rabbit and soon after, figure out that sometimes blood has nothing to do with family, and making the best choices can be quite challenging. It's not a fast-moving film, but it's one that will stick with you.

1 / 10

Cliché-cliché

Nope, just don't watch it, it's just american people saying sentences that we heard 1000 times, and it's incredibly superficial with a lot of useless silent moments...annoying

7 / 10

Beautifully made and insightful

IN A NUTSHELL:First-time director Haroula Rose shares a coming-of-age story about a fearless heroine in her drama, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Haroula Rose has a bright future in the film industry.The film has already won 17 awards in the film festival circuit!

TIPS FOR PARENTS:You see a girl in her underwear and later see her toplessA mother walks away from her family. If you have children, assure them you're not going to leave them.You see a dead deer and some other animals that have been shot, along with pelts.A teenager drinks alcohol given to her by a predatory adult and then he "has his way with her."You see blood on a girl's underwear.Profanity and 2 F-bombs.Guns, shootingPeople dieStarved for affection, the heroine is pretty promiscuousYou see a visit to an abortion clinic

THEMES:DestinyInfidelityFamilyConsequencesEmotional connectionHealing old woundsDishonesty"You should live how you want." - Margo (Kenadi DelaCerna)The importance of having good parents aroundSelfishness

THINGS I LIKED:Kenadi DelaCerna gives a wonderful breakthrough performance as a Native American teenager living in rural Michigan in the 1970s. She sets off on the river alone to find her estranged mother and meets interesting characters along the way.The director gives us some little details that really help us understand where the teenager's mindset is.Some beautiful cinematography by Charlotte Hornsby. The film is shot with an insightful lens.The sound of the river was outstanding and ever-present. Kudos to the sound department.Another round of kudos goes to the location management team. What a fun job that must be. Sign me up!The music was not heavy-handed, offering just a touch of background every now and then.I like the title but think "The River Rose" could have been even more appropriate because I love double-meanings.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:There isn't much humor, although there are a few humorous characters that the protagonist meets along the way.It's full of sadness. While the story is about Margo, some viewers will just be bored or depressed by the story.Some viewers won't be satisfied with the ending.

FUNNY LINES:* "Open your eye!" - Brian says to his friend with an eye patch (Dominic Bogart)

INTERESTING LINES:"You can go to the river to remember or you can go to the river to forget." - Margo (Kenadi DelaCerna)

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9 / 10

Beautiful Story

Finally a movie with actual substance and true life consequences. Wonderfully acted . Wish she would've met back up with the teacher. Maybe a sequel ?