Based on the memoir written by Cea Sunrise Person, North of Normal unravels the author’s challenging and eccentric childhood. Living with her grandparents, Cea and her young mother Michelle (Sarah Gadon) retreat into the wilderness of Alberta in order to find a new life. However, when Michelle decides that it’s time to leave their unconventional home and trek on her own, she brings her daughter on a nomadic journey that will shape the way she views the world.
Directed by Carly Stone, North of Normal is an engaging coming-of-age story that comes alive as a result of its performances. Although the script is fairly solid, it’s the cast that is able to make it shine. Although it may have been based on a true story, these sorts of films don’t always feel honest. Even so, Normal wears its heart on its sleeve and charms the viewer. Featuring some wonderful work from Amanda Fix, Robert Carlyle and the rest of the cast, Normal feels authentic.
In many ways, one of the more interesting aspects of Normal are the lines that it draws between ‘running towards’ and ‘running away’. In Normal, every character seems to feel that the best way to face their problems is to avoid them. From cancer diagnoses to legal issues, this is a family that flees into the wilderness when they need a place to start over. However, Normal never judges its central family too harshly. In a fascinating mix, Normal paints its characters with a lens of grace, allowing them to live with their failings but also be loved in the process. Here, everyone’s scars can be seen but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter.
To hear our interview with Carly Stone and Amanda Fix, click here.
North of Normal premiered at TIFF ’22. For more information, click here.