The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - FIRECRACKERS | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - FIRECRACKERS

firecrackers movie review
Two teenage girls attempt to escape the drudgery of small-town Canada.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Jasmin Mozaffari

Starring: Michaela Kurimsky, Karena Evans, Callum Thompson

firecrackers movie poster

They’re not fucking about with that title. The first lines of Firecrackers, spat out by some late-teen girls in a parking lot, run as such (*checks notes to capture the poetry exactly*): "What the fuck you say to me? You fucking kidding me? I can smell your dirty cunt from here. Why don’t you wipe the crust from your mouth? Why don’t you get your fucking girlfriend to wipe the crust from your mouth?" Charming! And so the tone of Jasmin Mozaffari’s incendiary coming-of-age story (the best debut of the year) is set, and continues as we follow foul mouthed playground banter merchants Lou and Chantal (Michaela Kurimsky and Karena Evans, who are, to use the lingua franca of Firecrackers, fucking incredible) as they negotiate drugs, sex, friendships and the seething frustrations and crushing captivities of being a teen in a dead end town.

firecrackers movie review

Although filmed in and around Ontario, Firecrackers is set in the sticks. The sort of bleak community where people live in ramshackle prefabs, look a bit unwashed, and take drugs/drink not for the exultant joy of substance abuse, but because what else are you going to do? It is so boring being here; there is nothing much to do but hang out with dim boys and smoke, while any potential futures are grimly indicated by Lou’s mum, a bitter and mean drunk who never left town. No wonder Lou and Chantal - bright, funny, adventurous - want out, even if the scope of their adolescent ambitions essentially extend to charming a dopey stoner pal to run them to New York in his truck. Because despite the drugs, the brazen sexuality, the swagger, Firecrackers reminds us, in carefully portioned moments, that Lou and Chantal are still just kids, kids who, in an attempt to avoid the drab adulthood mapped out for them, have clumsily taken matters into their own hands, despite their profound naivety (in one scene, a post-break up Chantal laments that her fella has "blocked me on everything" - oh love!).

firecrackers movie review

Here’s the thing about indie drama: the genre is increasingly categorised by victim narratives, and stuck in a congratulatory morass of simplistic, stereotypical coding. Think of Moonlight, wherein the central character is exclusively characterised by his race, class and sexuality, with no sense of personality or temperament. This type of poignant archetyping is rigged for sympathy, never empathy; geared so that we can sit in our matinees very very proud to feel so sorry for these deadbeats. Consequently, one of the reasons I loved Firecrackers and why I think you will too, is that these girls in and of themselves are never mere victims. In their determination, their anger, their utter love for one another, Chantal and Lou harbour no passivity. It is their context which is holding them back; a set of circumstances dictated by their lack of funds and their involuntary reliance on men to help them escape, be it the stoner kid who flakes out on them, or the boyfriends they have to keep sweet, or the older men they (unwisely) flirt with to get that lift across the border. For their part, the fellas in the film -glib fuckboys almost to a man - seem defeated in their own way, simply acting out an idea of accepted masculinity and all the unhappier for it, too (apart from Lou’s much younger brother, who enjoys putting make up on, and dancing around the trailer with his sister to pop music in one of the most joyful, natural portrayals of love and affection out there).

firecrackers movie review

Because, the film suggests, all these girls need is each other; fruity language aside, the reason why the opening spat hits so hard, and, indeed, why girl-fights are generally more spiteful than the male equivalent, is because they are soured by traitorism, an implied betrayal of sisterhood. Despite Firecrackers' rawness - it’s filmed in the indie style du jour, all shaky close ups and jarring wide angle transitions - for most of the running time Lou and Chantal are pictured laughing at the desperation of it all. The chemistry between the actors, and the facilitation of this alchemy by Mozaffari, is pure cinematic joy. In the moment it all feels so alive but how does it end for them? Well, how do you think life ends up for two feisty but uneducated poor girls from the wrong side of the tracks? Like the pyrotechnic specified by its title, these girls burn both bright and dangerously, but only for the briefest and most frantic of moments.

Firecrackers is on VOD now.

2019 movie reviews