TIFF 2020: Trickster

If you‘ve lived your life in a bubble with one reality, what happens when the bubble bursts, and the person you trusted the most harbors a big secret? In the new CBC series Trickster, a young man’s life turns upside down once he finds his true origin story.

Jared (Joel Oulette) is a decent kid. He has an afterschool job at the local fried chicken joint, stands up for his nerdy friend Crashpad (Nathan Alexis), and looks after the bills. Even though Jared is smart, his grades are bad, and he is an ecstasy dealer through the drive-thru window at his job. He needs the extra cash to look after his wild mom Maggie (Crystle Lightning), and his good-natured but flakey dad Phil (Craig Lauzon). When Jared starts to see his double, plus a talking crow and fairy lights around a girl he likes, he starts to think he might be losing it like his mom, who has conversations with thin air. Little does he know that his mom has a secret with a stranger named Wade (Kalani Queypo) that will change his life.

Director and show creator Michelle Latimer (who also directed the gorgeous and poignant documentary Inconvenient Indian), gives us a well-written, charmer of a show. Based on Eden Robinson’s book, Son of a Trickster, it’s fun, timely, and great for young and old audiences who enjoy a slightly darker show. The first episode sets up characters nicely, so you know you’re getting mystery, some real moments of family dysfunction, and small-town doldrums. The casting is near perfect: Oulette is just so good as Jared. Even though his actions are questionable, his motives are pure, and Oulette plays this up well. The rest of the cast drives you crazy but has a likeability about them that you can’t miss. Maggie is tiny, tough, and frustrating, but her love for Jared can’t be challenged, and Alexis is adorable as Jared’s nerdy best friend with the truest heart.

The second episode makes the viewer wonder if this kid will ever catch a break. There are also some hilarious moments, especially between Jared and his dad, Phil (the delivery scooter is a 10 out of ridiculous 10). The beautiful scenery of British Columbia also drives home the natural element of the show.

From what I’ve seen, Trickster will be an excellent addition for anyone missing shows like Supernatural, and there’s Indigenous representation we are sorely missing from T.V. Check out this limited series streaming on CBC Gem Oct 7.

Check out the Toronto International Film Festival from Sep 10-20, 2020.

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