directed by Karl Jacob
starring Bijou Abas, Karl Jacob, Anna Klemp
I’ve never seen a film that so accurately captures the ennui of sitting in a deer stand. Young Florence (Abas) lives up in the arrowhead of Minnesota where deer hunting isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life. Florence lives with her mom and sister and grandmother and the only male presence is her uncle Craig (Jacob). She’s just hitting puberty and receives as a gift her grandfather’s 30-30 rifle. It’s a bit big for her but she’s is a good shot and confident. Today is her big day of entering adulthood: its time for her first period and her first buck.
This is a coming of age story set in a feminine island of rugged outdoors people. Grandma Mia (Heidi Fellner) happily shoots, guts and cleans her deer before rushing off to help with a church supper. They may be remote but it’s not all bad, they sauna and own new trucks and plan their shopping carefully as the nearest store is an hour away. Florence wrestles with visions of her dead sister’s ghost, and a symbolic gold toy car must be sacrificed to move her into womanhood. The pacing is gentle, the scenery gorgeous, and what I enjoyed most in Florence’s story is it shows gun use without politics. It’s the sort of rifle usage I remember from my youth in Wisconsin: guns are tools, don’t load until l you need to, and make damn sure you’re not pointing at anything you don’t want dead. If you’re a die-hard animal lover, the deer cleaning scenes may seem rough, but the respect everyone show to the dead deer redeems all.