Writer/director Jasmin Mozaffari’s film stands out in an already-strong genre of new coming of age stories. With Firecrackers, set in a desolate, unnamed town on the outskirts of Ontario, Mozaffari manages to create a unique teenage friendship between Lou and Chantal, who ache to run away as soon as possible. Newcomers on the scene, Michaela Kurimsky (Lou) and Karena Evans (Chantal) completely nail the complex subject matter of assault, family drama, and mental health in a delicate take on rebellious teens. Firecrackers is an excellent directorial debut and captures the pain of two girls chained to their responsibilities. (MTP: 5/5)
Review by FF2 Intern Maiya Pascouche
Lou and Chantal are leaving tomorrow. They’ve made their money cleaning hotels, their friend Josh (Scott Cleland) has a new truck, and they couldn’t care less about what’s going on in their suffocating town. They’re headed for New York and are certainly not looking back. Mozaffari’s film opens just like that, the typical coming of age story. However, soon after those opening moments, it strays from the romantic throughline or family backlash one might expect of this conventional setup. Instead, it focuses on the beautifully unconditional love of two friends and their willingness to do anything for each other’s freedom.
Of course, like any film, their journey comes with some conflicts. Chantal’s ex-boyfriend Kyle (Dylan Mask) begins to harass and assault her. Lou swears to make him pay for what he’s done, and Mozaffari takes the girls on a dazzling, neon-lit drive. The girls smash Kyle’s car, push each other in grocery carts, and dance in abandoned car washes until dawn. “This moment won’t last, which perhaps makes it all the more beautiful.”
Firecrackers is absolutely gorgeous. The cinematography is a delicate dance off the mood of each scene. The best example is when Lou’s brother (Callum Thompson), a major scene stealer, is being baptised in a pond outside of the town. The sun sparkles off of his freshly shaved, holy-watered head. Everything is glistening, everyone is crying. The camera quickly cuts to Lou staring from a distance, slowly lowering herself into the water until she is fully submerged.
Mozaffari has managed to make a deeply emotional and subtle film that stands out from the rest of the recent films focused on young women, a trend that hopefully continues to expand. Her nuanced characters and brilliant directing shine a light on the tumult of young adult life. Lou and Chantal may live gritty, tough girl lives, but their emotions are more delicate. They want to run away because they know there is more out there for them than what they’ve been given by fate. It is that recklessly hopeful urge to take agency over one’s life–to break the mold, and find inner peace–that connects these two young women together and keeps every moment of Firecrackers enticing.