Discovery

Never Steady, Never Still

Kathleen Hepburn

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Shirley Henderson stars in the latest by Kathleen Hepburn, about a woman who, in the wake of her husband’s death, struggles to remain independent despite the advance of Parkinson's disease.

The highly anticipated feature debut from Kathleen Hepburn, one of Canada's most promising young filmmakers, Never Steady, Never Still is a devastating examination of the costs of long-term illness on a family. Shirley Henderson delivers a fearless, deeply moving performance as Judy, a woman who has battled Parkinson's disease nearly all her married life. As the illness exacts its toll, her husband, Eddie (Nicholas Campbell), struggles to care for her — and pushes their son, Jamie (2017 TIFF Rising Star Théodore Pellerin), into adulthood, demanding he take a job far from home.

Propelled by a profound sense of empathy and loss, Never Steady heartbreakingly charts the decline in Judy's health (her increasing difficulty in managing even quotidian tasks) and fiercely, poetically laments what might have been. Judy recalling for her support group Eddie's marriage proposal might be the most touching thing you'll see this year.

Hepburn's compassion shines even in the ancillary characters: pregnant teenage shop clerk Kaly is the soul of generosity and played beautifully by Mary Galloway (also a 2017 TIFF Rising Star) while Jamie's vile and pathetic foreman (Jared Abrahamson, Hello Destroyer) represents the outside world's boundless appetite for cruelty.

The film serves as an affecting reminder that family can mess you up but also stand as the last bastion against a world that is more hostile than might have been hoped, especially for those battling illness.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

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