Black Conflux

Saturday, February 15, 2020

15-year-old and high-school sophomore Jackie Dunphy sits in a Volkswagen Cabriolet outside a local convenience store. It’s 1987 in suburban Newfoundland. In a few hours there will be a late- night bush party that her friend Amber will beg her to attend as they await their friends’ return with cigarettes. Inside the store, 28-year-old Dennis Smarten saunters through the aisles, collecting microwave dinners and copping matches from the clerk’s counter. Grocery bag in hand, Dennis exits, walking towards the vehicle. As he passes, something draws his attention to Jackie inside the car; an uncanny magnetism. Her gaze turns to his and the pair lock eyes momentarily. Time lingers. Jackie and Dennis are destined to meet again.

Teetering between childhood and womanhood, Jackie is caught in the midst of a vulnerable transition of body and mind. A model student and lead in the school’s choir, the legacy of a broken home has Jackie surrendering to adolescent temptations of all-nighters, shoplifting, hooky, smoking and hitchhiking in search of her identity. Continually plagued by the failures of the women of her family her mindset gradually shifts as she actively decides to escape a seemingly inevitable future within her small town.

Simultaneously, Dennis is trying to comprehend and suppress the deviant tendencies flowing through his brain. A loner, Dennis’ social ineptitude reigns. In his fantasy world however, visions of adoring women surround him. Here he is the charming, affable man he longs to be. But, as the pressure to belong builds, his fantasies rapidly darken until they crash into his heightened sense of isolation. A haunting dream featuring the same adoring women reveals his deepest fear – he will never achieve the conventional life he most desires. With this, he gets in his car and drives, overwhelmed by his dark visions he stumbles on Jackie who, at the end of her own downward spiral, is able to save Dennis from himself; and herself from what seemed to be fated, by lending self-worth to a man who all but gave up.

Screening as part of the series Canada Now: Best New Films 2020.

  • Country Canada
  • Running Time 101 minutes
  • Distributor Telefilm
  • Director Nicole Dorsey
  • Writer Nicole Dorsey
  • Accessibility Assistive Listening, T-Coil

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