North Star TIFF

“My festival began with “North Star,” in Kristin Scott Thomas’s directorial debut. Scarlett Johansson co-stars in a mother-daughter story, with Sienna Miller and Emily Beecham as the other two daughters, with billing as a comic-drama. It premiered at the Princess of Whales Theater, which has 2,000 seats! This is my 5th year attending; other than the COVID year, I still covered it that year from home. I always enjoy traveling to this beautiful city and viewing movies in theaters that are movie palaces!

Princess of Wales Movie Theater

With a great cast as mentioned above Kristin Scott Thomas revisits her childhood trauma. She directed and co-wrote the script based on her father, a Royal Navy pilot. He was killed in action when she was just six years of age; in a sad coincidence, her mother re-marries, and her stepfather was also killed while serving in the Royal Navy as a pilot when she was 12. Her mother, of which Scott plays the role, marries again for a third time—the film begins at this point. Scott’s story of two fathers who gave their lives for their country and the after-effects of the family are important to know, and her personal story is one all should see.

The three daughters live worldwide and reunite for their mother’s (Thomas) wedding. Upon their meeting and seeing their interactions, we clearly view a dysfunctional trio. Katherine (Johansson) follows in her late Dad’s footsteps as a Captain in the Royal Navy. Still, she experiences some troubles in her relationship with Jack (Freida Pinto), a north star who wants a family while Katharine pursues a military career. Victoria (Miller), is a movie star who’s obsessed with speaking publicly about her family’s tragic past despite the disapproval of her sisters. While Georgina (Beecham), is a palliative-care nurse whose unfaithful husband, Jeremy (Joshua Maguire), causes her much unneeded stress.

The three-day wedding weekend occurs at their childhood home as their mother prepares to marry husband number three (James Fleet). The sister’s past unfinished dealings of secrets and criticisms become front and center as they are all together. The pitfalls of a true story are keeping with a narrative enough, though it creates an uncomfortable vibe. The yelling, screaming, hurt, and anger were challenging to view, although love, family, and sympathy eventually win, which makes the film so interesting. Johansson gives a genuine and lovely performance. She has twice played Thomas’ daughter in “The Horse Whisperer” and “The Other Boleyn Girl. They have great chemistry together as the nuances between is warm and realistic.

The film ends fittingly with a poignant dedication in memory of Thomas’ “two fathers,” Lt Commander Simon Thomas Royal Navy and Commander Simon Idiens Royal Navy. All is forgiven as the redundant script and choppy scene work in the film is a personal project of Thomas,’ and we are merely along for the ride. I’d suggest seeing it as the performances of the main four women are a treat to behold. Beecham’s role is of the peacekeeper, which is not an easy job in this family.

Director: Kristin Scott ThomasScreenplay: Kristin Scott Thomas and Richard John Micklethwait

Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Emily Beecham, Thibault De Montalembert, Freida Pinto, Joshua Maguire, James Fleet

Studio: Finola Dwyer Productions and Ridlington Road Pictures

Running time: 1 hr 35 min

Sarah Knight Adamson© September 7, 2023 Toronto