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Film review: Range Roads

In this Alberta-set drama, you can go home again, but you might not like what you find

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If you’ve ever had to clean out the home of a departed loved one, you’ll know that’s when the skeletons in the closet are often found.

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In Range Roads, Alana Hawley Purvis stars as Frankie, a not-famous actress whose big gig at the moment is starring in a children’s TV show where she talks to a donkey. She’s been estranged from her parents for years, but when news comes that they’ve died in a car crash, she heads home to Lethbridge.

It’s an awkward homecoming. Frankie’s brother, Grayson (Joe Perry), is rough and rural, mildly mocking of Frankie’s left-coast lifestyle, and not embarrassed about using words like “retarded.” He’s also been made executor of the will, which pointedly omits Frankie.

But there’s a mystery as well. Frankie finds a life insurance policy that names a woman whose name she doesn’t recognize. What’s her connection to the family?

Range Roads is the newest from Alberta filmmaker Kyle Thomas. I was very taken with his last feature, The Valley Below, and found this one a little less compelling; its brief, 85-minute runtime begged for a little more space to flesh out its characters.

But any narrative shortcomings are overcome by Purvis’s performance in the lead role. She looks believably uncomfortable in her own skin, and her flinty delivery will elicit sympathy from any audience member who has ever felt out of place in the place they once called home. Range Roads might not do enough, but what it does it does right.

Range Roads opens May 13 in Edmonton and Calgary, and May 31 on demand.

3 stars out of 5

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