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Bonus Content: Rental includes an introduction from Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Artistic Director and Co-Head, and Robyn Citizen, Senior Manager of Festival Programming. Scroll down to watch.
In Charles Officer’s lyrical debut feature, a 12-year-old boy immerses himself in a world of magic to find a protector for his ill mother.
This note was adapted from Jesse Wente’s original 2008 Festival programme note.
Toronto filmmaker Charles Officer (Akilla’s Escape, Unarmed Verses) made his acclaimed feature directorial debut at TIFF 2008 with this poetic tale of a 12-year-old boy who immerses himself in a world of magic in order to help his ailing mother. Jude (Karen LeBlanc) is a hospital night-shift nurse who is herself ill with sickle-cell anemia. On the job she meets Silence (Clark Johnson), a boxer in need of stitches. Determined to bring this solitary, brooding figure into their lives as a protector, Jude’s son Ciel (Daniel J. Gordon) casts a spell that leads to a series of magical encounters between nurse and fighter — and provides a father figure for himself.
Nurse.Fighter.Boy is a rich exploration of the connections between the healer, the warrior, and the child of its title. Officer, whose short film Short Hymn, Silent War had received a Special Jury Citation at the Festival in 2002, directs his first feature with both assurance and daring, using a rich colour palette for his characters: red for Jude, yellow for Silence, green for Ciel. The subtle narrative is carried by exquisite performances, with Johnson and LeBlanc’s physical presence conveying as much emotion as the spare dialogue. Gordon is a revelation, lending Ciel a depth and wisdom that belies his age and experience.
Personal and heartfelt, Nurse.Fighter.Boy is an original, lyrical movie that confirmed Officer’s status as one of Canada’s visionary young filmmakers.
Official Selection, 2008 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisories: violence, sexually suggestive scenes, coarse language