It feels timely and urgent, and its phenomenal young heroine ensures it doesn’t become overly mawkish, preachy, or prosaic.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
When Beans works, it resonates deeply. And when it doesn’t, it’s not a tragedy – just evidence of a filmmaker finding what works for her voice and vision, and what might work better for an anticipated follow-up.
Violence becomes both a weapon and a tool throughout the proceedings while words do the same since both must sometimes be wielded as the former in order to be successful as the latter.
In Beans, Deer has transformed the most painful experience of her life into a vital human story, while holding an unflinching mirror up to the racism and discrimination indigenous communities still face to this day.
A specifically French-Canadian and Native coming-of-age story that’s heavy handed in some ways and delicate in others.
With its coming-of-age and its historical context, Beans concerns ideas of pain and conflict, but it’s too timid to really engage those ideas, to honor their discomfort aside from how horrific discrimination is (a few scenes of the family being ambushed by racist Canadian citizens are upsetting, but played too directly for tears).
Deer has made a richly-detailed debut feature about an ugly piece of Canadian history, and it’s to her credit that she lets young heroine see the escalation from both sides, and lets the viewer see what this does to her.
Deer, a rare filmmaker of Mohawk descent, portrays in Beans the hope and love that help people thrive in the face of such hatred.
Mohawk director Tracey Deer, who lived through the violent 78-day conflict as a 12-year-old, has made a film that's eye-opening. Beyond her firsthand understanding of indigenous people's struggles, she's keenly attuned to girlhood growing pains — well captured in the expressive and engaging performance by Kiawentiio, leading a strong cast.
Beans is an ambitious film that, for the most part, works. It extends its efforts to reach a larger audience, but the story it tells is easy to admire.