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  • Wendy Shreve

BEANS GIVES POWER AND VOICE TO THE MOHAWKS

The Mohawk River, an impressive tributary of The Hudson River runs from Oneida County to north of Albany, New York. Named for the Mohawk Nation, some may have assumed that the people are indigenous to the United States. However, their range extended into Canada, too, where many members continue to live.



Beans (2020) describes a Canadian-Mohawk girl, Tekehentahkhwa or "Beans," being her nickname because most non-indigenous speakers cannot pronounce her formal name. The girl aspires for a better life for herself and her ever-expanding family in 1990s Quebec. Believing she has the mental toughness to succeed in the mainstream, she tries to gain acceptance in a prestigious academy. Meanwhile, Beans gets taunted by kids from her community who resent her desire for a better education. When the Oka Crisis (a.k.a. The Kanesatake Resistance) escalates--a conflict between the Canadian indigenous peoples (First Nations) and the government that had approved a golf course being built on Native lands--Beans, her family and community become enmeshed in mayhem.


Directed by Tracy Deer with sensitivity and resoluteness, such as Beans' difficulty coping with external pressures and the film's reenactments of the violence against the Mohawks; riots with the police, have equal power. Joel Montgrand (Beans' father), Rainbow Dickerson (Beans' mother) plus Violah Beauvais (her sister) provide substantive support to Kiawentiio's beautiful performance as the titular character.


Writer Deer and her co-writer Meredith Vuchnich give the characters rich dialogue along with momentum that keeps the story from flagging.


Beans underscores the continuing fight to protect indigenous land, native culture and tradition. One cannot help but be moved by this powerful story.


Unrated.


Available now on demand and for rent via streaming services.


Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com


Care to share? Post or e-mail your comments to featuringfilmreviewer@gmail.com


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