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TIFF 2023 Review: Finestkind

Seeking a break from the family expectations of becoming a lawyer, Charlie decides to work on his brother’s fishing trawler for the summer.

Rather than pursue a law degree, Charlie (Toby Wallace) attempts to reconnect with his brother Tom (Ben Foster) by working on his fishing trawler and becomes entangled in a series of misjudgements and mishaps which threaten to tear the siblings apart from a boat going up in flames and sinking, being caught for illegal fishing in Canadian waters, and resorting to questionable means to pay the resulting fines.  And thrown into the mix is a budding romance between Charlie and Mabel (Jenna Ortega) who is a kindred spirit as she is determined to become the hero of her own life.

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Going in with certain expectations is never a good idea and the mistake was made when going to see Finestkind as it is more of Bud Light than a Guinness. Or in cinematic terms think of a poor man’s version of the commercial action fare of Peter Berg and Michael Bay rather than the emotional heft of Wolfgang Petersen.  It really should have been in the league with Petersen considering that Brian Helgeland co-wrote the screenplay for one of the all-time greats of the crime noir genre L.A. Confidential.  But I am beginning to wonder if the success of that screenplay had more to do with the contributions of Curtis Hanson than Helgeland.

Then there is the matter of acting powerhouses Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Foster playing father and son which sounds like a dream come true but the material falls well short of their talents.  Hard to decide whether Jenna Ortega will be able to achieve the heights of her two co-stars but she does nothing to further her cause.  Toby Wallace and, in particular Tim Daly, feel like cardboard cutouts of generic characters.  The editing and camerawork are stylized and the music aims to please with classic rock songs. The trouble is that there is no emotional connection with the story or the characters.   The blame belongs to Helgeland as it is due to his formulaic script and lackluster direction.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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  1. Is there a lot of romance with Charlie and Mabel??

  2. Dose mabel and Charlie kiss in the movie in are they a good couple

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