Don't let ignorance stop you from watching this movie
Medicine River, a film directed by Stuart Margolin, is somewhat of a hidden gem. Based on Thomas King's award winning novel of the same name, the story begins by introducing the lead character Will(Graham Greene). Will, a photojournalist, is imprisoned in a war torn country ruled by a gorilla dictatorship. He is freed after he agrees to take portraits of the leader, and heads back to his Toronto home to his boss/lover Ellen(Janet-Laine Green). After checking his answering machine, he learns that his brother James has left various messages regarding their mother's ill health. Will had been gone so long, that the final messages left by his brother James detailed his mother's death. On the news of his mother's death Will packs his bags and leaves for his childhood home(Medicine River, Alberta, Canada) in order to make it in time for her funeral. The only memories of the reserve was of his brother James. However, he arrives to an empty home. Fatigued by the latest events he falls asleep, only to be woken up by the town's friendly con-artist Harlan(Tom Jackson). Through some somewhat witty dailogue, Will still has no clue where his brother was. Will does discovers that he missed his mother's funeral. When he tries to go home, Harlan and some other residents of the community try to persuade him to stay to help them. If I have it correct, the town was granted a loan from the Canadian government to take pictures of local wildlife(which do not frequent their reserve). So they spent the money on jerseys for their community's basketball team, and then took out a loan to pay for the camera equipment they originally were given money for. In theory they bought the jerseys to give the team motivation to win the championship which was worth $5000...which would therefore pay for the camera loan, and in turn they can make a calendar of the locals to pay for the original loan. Will is suckered into becoming their photographer since Harlan has no idea how to run the equipment(they bought one role of film because they figured 12 months in a year, 24 exposures...more than enough...ha!) Will starts to learn about his heritage, and who he is, and falls in love with a local woman, Louise(Shiela Tousy). Does Will ever see James...you'll have to watch to find out. I started by stating that this movie is a hidden gem. The movie is fairly low-budget, made for TV, and did not have the mass hype that is associated with blockbuster movies. However, all this does not matter in regards to this film. The landscape shots really are beautiful: the plateaus, forests and rivers really capture the essence of the land. The dialogue is somewhat colloquial, it has a good mixture concerning serious issues with humor. The acting is natural, and really shows these unique individuals, and at the same time it pokes fun at society's view of the "Hollywood Indian". The humor was not knee-slapping funny, but it was a good mix of one liners and reoccurring witty remarks. I recommend this movie for anyone(ignorant and otherwise) that would like a refreshing change in pace from some of the no-brainer Hollywood pics.
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