SEAGRASS – Movie Review

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Canadian writer/director Meredith Hama-Brown’s debut feature, Seagrass, is a moody drama about a troubled interracial couple — Judy (Ally Maki) is Canadian-Japanese and Steve (Luke Roberts) is White — who vacation with their two young daughters — ages eleven and six — at a self-development retreat on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia.

They’ve come to the retreat because Judith hopes to be able to overcome her feelings of grief following her mother’s death and her anguished belief that she’s lost the opportunity to discover more about Japanese culture and her ethnic identity. At the retreat, she is sensitized to Steve’s microaggressions and his lack of awareness and understanding of her emotional needs. She hopes to resolve their misunderstandings by participating in guided group therapy session, but Steve doesn’t commit to participating fully.

The widening rift between them impacts their two daughters, who already have sibling issues. Left to their own devices while their Mom and Dad attend the group therapy sessions, the girls form friendships with other parents’ kids, who are — to put it plainly — cruelly manipulative and racist. For the girls, the entire situation is confusing, then disorienting, then traumatic.

Superbly honest and nuanced performances by Ally Maki and Luke Roberts reveal the couple’s communication problems, inner turmoil, cultural misunderstandings and their differences in parenting behavior — and all of the other issues they need to resolve. Child actors Nyha Huang Breitkreuz and Remy Marthaller give stunningly mature performances as the daughters.

Hama-Brown’s direction gives her actors time to focus and feel. The tension between them is palpable. And affecting. Cinematographer Norm Li’s exquisite camerawork alternatingly captures the characters emotions up close and personal and sweeps the islandscape’s beautifully untamed but potentially dangerous terrain and the roiling swirling surrounding sea.

FILM DETAILS:

Title: Seagrass

Director: Meredith Hama-Brown

Release Date: February 23, 2024

Running Time: 115 minutes  

Language: English

Screenwriters: Meredith Hama-Brown  

Distribution Company: Game Theory Films

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