By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Moving drama about missing Indigenous girl; violent themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes compassion, empathy, perseverance. Sobering message that Indigenous women who go missing aren't counted or considered a priority to find; no one keeps track of them or feels motivated to find them. Movie is clearly outraged by this, tries to put a compassionate, human face on the issue, showing grief and helplessness that a family and community feel at the loss.
Positive Role Models
Ivy is a compassionate, empathetic girl who loves her mother and her older sister. Susan is a steadfast and strong-willed mother who's willing to commit herself to the cause of finding her daughter. Positive BIPOC representation in front of and behind the camera.
Violence & Scariness
Centers around disappearance of an Indigenous young woman who's presumed murdered. Susan gets upset at several people and puts herself in dangerous situations to find answers about her daughter's fate.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A girl sees her sister hugging a guy from afar.
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A few uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "what the hell," "idiot," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Etch A Sketch.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink at a bar and at outdoor events. People discuss the drug trade -- specifically, weighing, packing, and selling weed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rustic Oracle is a Canadian drama set in the 1990s about a young Mohawk girl whose teen sister goes missing, sending her family and community into turmoil. The film, written and directed by Canadian First Nations filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau, is a tribute to the many missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) across Canada. Families should expect moments of brief violence, strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t"), and intense conversations about the possible outcomes for girls and women who disappear. Adults drink in a bar, and there are conversations about dealing drugs (in particular, marijuana). Characters grieve and speak emotionally about a missing teen.
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What's the Story?
RUSTIC ORACLE is a drama about a young First Nations Canadian girl whose teen sister goes missing -- and how that disappearance affects her small family and her entire community. The movie, directed by Sonia Bonspille Boileau, herself a member of the Mohawk Nation, opens with a content warning because of the collective trauma experienced by Indigenous women on both sides of the Canadian-American border who've gone missing over several decades. The film, set in the 1990s, then introduces viewers to single mom Susan (Carmen Moore), who lives with her two daughters -- Heather (McKenzie Deer Robinson), a teenager, and 8-year-old Ivy (Lake Delisle). Susan trusts Heather with her little sister, but she also fights with her oldest daughter about sneaking out at night and refusing to disclose her whereabouts. One day at school, after a particularly ugly blow-up between mother and daughter, Heather forgets to pick up Ivy from school and doesn't come home. Ivy recalls seeing her sister with a shady-looking older White guy. Susan alerts the authorities, and soon Ivy is worried about all the nightmarish worst-case scenarios while Susan tries to find out the truth.
Is It Any Good?
This is a quietly powerful, well-acted drama that explores the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women through the perspective of a loving little sister. While 2017's Wind River was excellent, it approached the subject matter from the perspective of a White man (granted, one who's immersed in and sensitive to a Native community). Rustic Oracle rightly focuses on the actual girls and women from the community that's directly affected by the missing. Ivy is the main character, worrying and wondering about her older sister's whereabouts and all the possible fates that could await her. Young Delisle does a lovely job portraying the simple grief Ivy feels not having her beautiful older sister around, and Moore deftly conveys the rage and confusion of a mother on a mission.
Shot on Indigenous Canadian land, Rustic Oracle evokes the heartbreak of a community that's at a loss to help or find their own girls and women. The film's end sequence includes the fact that "we have lost close to 4,000 of our Indigenous sisters in the last 40 years," and this movie is a tribute to the horrors of knowing that someone you love is gone and that not nearly enough people in power care about that fact. As Ivy's innocence is tested -- knowing her sister is in harm's way, understanding her mother's desperation to get to the truth -- she continues to hold on to hope. Slow and captivating, the movie may be difficult to watch, but it's an important statement film.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Rustic Oracle's messages. Did you already know about the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW)? If not, what did you learn? How did the closing message about missing Indigenous Canadian and Native American women make you feel?
Discuss the importance of watching or reading stories about a wide range of communities. What do you think about the representation in this movie?
What does the mom mean when she says that "the world can be cruel to girls like us"? Why is violence against girls and women still so pervasive? What steps can you take to make sure girls and women are safe in your community?
Discuss how violence is referenced here. Is it necessary to the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
- On DVD or streaming: May 4, 2021
- Cast: Carmen Moore, Lake Delisle, McKenzie
- Director: Sonia Bonspille Boileau
- Inclusion Information: Indigenous actors
- Studio: Hewes Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Character Strengths: Empathy, Perseverance
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
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