This film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival
Nature’s tendency to stir up trouble is an integral theme in the small drama “Until Branches Bend.” From an invasive beetle to an unwanted pregnancy, writer / director Sophie Jarvis‘s’ script draws parallels between two biological events that can lead to disturbing consequences.
Robin (Grace Glowicki) works the line at a fruit packing plant. It’s a mundane existence, but she’s good at her job. Peach orchards provide the local economy, so Robin knows it’s a big problem when she finds a piece of fruit that’s been infested by a bug. Her boss (Lochlyn Munro) insists it’s no big deal, and instructs the young woman to keep her discovery secret. Understanding the economic impact this could have on the town, Robin doesn’t keep quiet. This leads those in power to discredit her publicly, even though she did the right thing.
During all of this, Robin’s obsession with proving she’s telling the truth grows. It consumes her, almost as much as her quest to obtain an abortion. She’s pregnant as a result of a secret affair. Jarvis weaves the two stories together, with moderate success. The film is a social statement about how women are sometimes seen as second class citizens in the workplace as well as in the health care system. It’s almost impossible for Robin to get an appointment to terminate her pregnancy, with both her body and the town turning against her.
It’s also a pyschological drama with a heavy dose of existentialism. Shot on 16mm film, there’s a visual quality that lends a dreamy realism. Jarvis’ storytelling is leisurely but not overly so, allowing viewers to experience Robin’s struggles firsthand.
“Until Branches Bend” is a pensive film with an effective lead performance by Glowicki. It’s one of those small-scale stories that is perfectly suited for an independent film, even if the metaphors are a little murky.
By: Louisa Moore