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"God's Country": They picked the wrong woman to mess with

God's Country

Starring Thandiwe Newton, Jeremy Bobb, Joris Jarsky, Jefferson White, Kai Lennox, Tanaya Beatty. Written by Julian Higgins and Shaye Ogbonna. Directed by Julian Higgins. Now playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox. 102 minutes. STC

⭐⭐⭐ (out of 4)

This ain’t “Straw Dogs,” it’s “Iron Woman.” There’s righteous ferocity from Thandiwe Newton, who delivers a career-peak performance as a fearless college professor in red state back country. All she wants to do is live quietly in her woodland cottage. Redneck hunters who trespass on her turf don’t take kindly to orders from a city slicker, least of all a Black one, but they picked the wrong woman to mess with. Julian Higgins’ auspicious feature debut employs genre violence to make social revolution explosively real. “Sometimes it feels like things never change,” Newton’s character, Sandra, tells her students. “But I promise you they do. They have to.” Rest assured she doesn’t just talk the talk. 🌓

— Peter Howell


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