Life on the Rock never seemed easy, but for Mitsy (Meghan Greeley) it is especially rough. The teenager has been abandoned by her mother, a particularly unfit parent prone to both the bottle and the sex trade. She is left to be brought up by her mercurial grandmother Bride (Mary Walsh), who is well-meaning but oppressively suffocating.
Mitsy’s dreams for the future hinge on her desire to be a hairdresser, but her current emotional well-being revolves around a wee dog named Sparky, an unwanted canine misfit to whom she becomes hopelessly attached. After Bride agrees to let Mitsy take the dog in as a pet, the teen tries desperately to create a happy, safe place for Sparky to thrive – basically, she wants to offer the dog the kinds of comforts she has never known. But Mitsy’s life is shaken once more when her mother returns to Newfoundland. Even though Mitsy is thrilled, Bride wants nothing to do with her ne’er-do-well deadbeat daughter. It’s a family made up of three wildly dysfunctional generations, always poised to clash. And in the midst of it all, Mitsy is learning about her emerging sexuality and developing a crush on a local bad boy who works in a rather grim fast food joint.
Sherry White’s feature directorial debut is a delicate balancing act, a sharply observed character study of two women who struggle to do their best despite being handed a pretty rotten lot in life. Greeley is a revelation as Mitsy, turning in a performance so sympathetic it is often heart-wrenching to behold. And as her grandmother, Walsh offers us yet another multi-dimensional character, proving she can deliver much more than the comedy that made her famous. Mitsy’s story is never sentimentalized, and while the times are indeed as harsh as one can imagine, White offers us some cautious optimism as well. Crackie is a refined film, full of evocative moments and raw human emotion. —tiff.net