Cea Sunrise Person lives a very unconventional childhood. She was raised by her grandparents, former hippies, in the middle of the wilderness of the Canadian North. Having become pregnant at the age of 15, her mother is the epitome of immaturity. Cea Sunrise experiences a shock when, as a teenager, she leaves the wilderness to join society.
Canadian director Carly Stone adapted Cea Sunrise Person’s biography North of Normal, obviously focusing on the rocky relationship between the young girl and her mother. The scenario is skilful and makes good use of returns to the past to shed light on the behavior of each other.
The director portrays the universes that follow one another well: the extreme freedom of a hippie community established on the shore of a Nordic body of water, the conformity and incomprehension of a secondary school in a small town.
The film could have descended into misery: the young Cea Sunrise has to deal with instability and abandonment. She wants her mother to put her before her crummy boyfriends.
Fortunately, the director insists instead on the resilience of the young girl, her constant struggle to find a place for herself and follow her own desires.
It’s also a little ironic to see the production put Sarah Gadon, who plays the role of mother, Michelle, at the top of the credits, rather than Amanda Fix, who plays Cea Sunrise as a teenager.
Amanda Fix, who is in her first big role, is very believable and translates the young woman’s contradictory feelings perfectly well. Inevitably, she attracts attention in all the scenes where she appears.
In an interview with various media on the sidelines of North of Normal’s premiere at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival, director Carly Stone explained that she tried to make the mother character a little more likable than it was. was originally planned. It must be said that Mrs. Stone herself became a mother during the filming: she thus developed more empathy towards Michelle, despite her imperfections.
Still, North of Normal is clearly Cea Sunrise’s story, not her mother’s.