Cast: Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, Violet Nelson
Directors: Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn
Even with it’s small releases, Netflix is having a phenomenal year across the board. With heavy hitters dominating the awards circuit, it’s nice to see that they still care about smaller, more intimate movies as well. With The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, we see what Canada’s doing with their smaller studios. Covering a variety of sensitive subjects in 105 minutes, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open portrays a harsh reality in a way that movies from major studios could never dream about. A technical masterpiece and accompanied by two wonderful performances, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is Canada’s crown jewel of 2019 and something that will leave you thinking long after everything is done.
The film follows Aila (Tailfeathers), a woman returning from a doctor’s appointment who spots Rosie (Nelson) on the street looking battered and being verbally abused by her boyfriend. Not wanting to see another woman in pain, Aila takes Rosie back to her home, gets her clean, and finds resources for her to get to a safe place. Over the course of 105 minutes, we watch as the two bond over their Native American background but also clash over their perception of the world and how Rosie should deal with her relationship. Much like 1917, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open uses the one-shot technique with very few edits during this movie. I think it works better in the context of 1917, but at the same time this decision helps zero on the exact mood that we should be feeling throughout the movie. It helps us identify the pure empathy displayed by Aila and everything that she’s trying to do to make the life of a complete stranger better. While this is one reason to watch the movie, we don’t get too many movies that actively discuss the struggles that modern Native Americans face in their lives. Due to circumstances created by their governments, many Native Americans face a series of difficulties that other racial groups don’t face. In The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, there seems to be an allusion to the fact that Native women deal with domestic abuse more frequently than other women. I’m openly admitting that I’m not the most knowledgeable person in the world on these topics, so I’m glad we have movies like The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open to give audiences perspective and understanding of the world they live in. This feels very much like a “call to action” movie that will hopefully inspire others to move forward and learn more about how others live. When we take into account that the movie is written and directed by a Native American woman, it creates a level of authenticity and realism that we rarely ever see from movies like The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open. Between the superb technical aspects and the personal and intimate acting, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open takes a well-received concept and makes more relatable than I’ve ever imagined
Overall, I don’t think I ever expected to watch a movie like The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, but I’m incredibly glad that I did. You can tell this is part of Tailfeathers’ mission to bring awareness to the issues that Native Americans face, and when you make something with the level of quality present here, it’s easy to say that she succeeded. I hope some of her future projects get more widespread praise in the future, because after watching The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, she certainly deserves it.
Overall Score: 8.5/10