THE KING TIDE Review: The Fable of a Miracle Gone Wrong

Editor, Canada; Montréal, Canada (@bonnequin)
THE KING TIDE Review: The Fable of a Miracle Gone Wrong

Living in a harsh landscape, somewhat apart and isolated, means you make certain choices about how much assistance you will receive, and how much protection you will offer your community. It also means that legends can grow up around people who perhaps offer more than a human being can expect: fear can grow in isolation, and cults can develop that often bring a selfishness from desperation.

Such as happens on this particular island off the east coast of a mainland - unnamed, but a fishing community that has fallen on decades of hard times, with people often wondering why they continue to grasp at this existence, when both nature and a government without the personal touch leave them bereft. So when a baby washes onto shore that seems to offer them a miracle, it's not hard to understand why certain people would refuse to let that miracle go.

Anyone who stands close enough to Isla (Alix West Lefler), has any physical ailment instantly healed. She also is able to call fish into the local bay, meaning no more trips into the open ocean, and more importantly, no need for the mainland. The island cut itself off from the mainland a decade ago, both to protect Isla from any who might exploit her powers, and because they don't need the mainland anymore. With the basic necessities of life taken care of, the residents, it seems, don't need anything else. Her parents Grace (Laura Jean Chorostecki) and Bobby (Clayne Crawford), who is also the defacto mayor, know that they might not be able to protect her forever. Isla is a kind and sweet child, aware that her powers have brough health and sufficiency to her island, and she is happy to play this role - but she is still a child, and unaware of how much power she contains.

Screenwriters William Shin (Disappearance from Clifton Hill) and William Wood are crafting a modern day parable: what happens when you receive a miracle, exist within what it provides, and then it's taken away? Because the good never lasts forever, and a childish prank leads to death - something the island, especially its children, have not experienced in 10 years. What is the price of this miracle? And more importantly, to whom does this miracle belong?

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Director Christian Sparkes leans into the fable tone and energy brought to the island by Isla's presence. Everything feels, while not efffortless bucolic, still a steady contentment that comes from knowing you will have no illness and plenty of food, that none will go without. The windswept island feels just slightly unnatural, as it has made itself out of time, while the sea is always pounding (literally and figuratively) at their shores, reminding them they are alone and yet still beholden to nature.

Faye (Frances Fisher), who had been suffering from the ravages of old age and to whom Islan brings the miracle of awareness again, becomes the leader of a group who have elevated Isla to an iconic status - she belongs not to her parents, but to the island. She will do anything not to go back to that dark place, nor will the villagers stand for Isla to be taken away. The steps they take to ensure her powers benefit them seem harmless at first, but at least her father suspects that she will become nothing but pawn to them, and worse, a god.

The script weaves a lot of different themes and explorations together quite deftly: the possession that some parents or adults feel over children; how the loss of fear of illness or death can lead to complacency and lack of empathy; how trauma can lead to sorrow that needs to be walked through rather than simply 'cured'; how something unbelievable perhaps shouldn't be relied on. These parable lessons work well in the contemporary context of a place that has suffered from both natural and manmade hardships, and just this little helping hand can seem like so little to ask - and yet, it can bring far more pain than happiness. And that pain can cause the most devastating of unintentional actions.

The King Tide asks question of how faith is created, how much we lean on it, and the dangers oif elevating miracles to iconic obsessions. It creates a strong atmosphere of foreboding that leads this parable down a path strewn with the best intentions and understandable needs.

The King Tide opens in Canada, from VVS Films, on Friday April 26th.

The King Tide

  • Christian Sparkes
  • Kevin Coughlin
  • Ryan Grassby
  • Albert Shin
  • Frances Fisher
  • Lara Jean Chorostecki
  • Clayne Crawford
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Christian SparkesKevin CoughlinRyan GrassbyAlbert ShinFrances FisherLara Jean ChorosteckiClayne CrawfordDramaMysteryThriller

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