Canadian Film Fest 2016: Borealis

A gambling addict goes on the lam with his teenage daughter in Borealis. Jonah (Jonas Chernick) is a Winnipeg man, who owes a nearly $100,000 poker debt to Jewish mafia accountant Tubby Finkelman (Kevin Pollak). Around the same time, Jonah finds out that his teenage daughter Aurora’s (Joey King) eyesight is deteriorating to the point where she will be completely blind in a few weeks. Desperate to put his problems behind him, Jonah and Aurora go on a roadtrip to Churchhill to see the Northern Lights.

Borealis is a father-daughter bonding movie, with Jonah’s goal being to show his daughter Aurora the Northern Lights, before she is rendered completely blind. Jonah’s wife died sometime before and even though he has a new girlfriend Kyla (Emily Hampshire), Jonah has sunk into a serious gambling addiction, which is testing the patience of Tubby and his muscle Brick (Clé Bennett), who pursue Jonah in order to collect the increasing amount of money he owes them. Jonah and Aurora’s relationship is rocky at best, with Aurora having her own plans for this roadtrip, which has nothing to do with the Northern Lights.

One of the biggest issues with Borealis is that it is incredibly difficult to sympathize with Jonah, who practically deserves everything that’s coming to him. In the opening moments of the film, he makes an irresponsible $50,000 bet on a poker hand he ultimately loses and he also hides the bad news of Aurora’s imminent blindness from her. Part of this can be attributed to Jonah not being over his wife’s death, however he constantly endangers his family with his desperate and stupid decisions. However, that’s not to say Borealis is not a film worth checking out and it indeed has some genuine heart at times.

7 / 10 stars

Screening Times:

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).