Burn Your Maps Directed by Jordan Roberts

Burn Your Maps Directed by Jordan Roberts
Courtesy of TIFF
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Surprisingly, Burn Your Maps — a movie starring Canadian child star Jacob Tremblay as a boy who thinks he's a Mongolian goat herder — is one of the best films to confront ideas of gender and identity, in a time when such issues are finally at the forefront of society. Who could have predicted that?
 
Directed by Big Hero 6 and March of the Penguins writer Jordan Roberts, Burn Your Maps is an American film that balances sarcastic humour and real-life, relatable drama to create a film that, although visually underwhelming, will leave viewers pondering the magnitude of its meaning long after the lights come on.
 
Tremblay plays Wes, an eight-year-old whose increasingly odd appearances and activities in and out of class cause concern for his teacher, classmates and father (Marton Csokas). His mother Alise (Vera Farmiga, in one of her finest performances) is more accepting, leading to tension between the married couple, whose relationship is already struggling following the death of their newborn daughter months earlier.
 
When Wes meets one of his mother's ESL students, an Indian wannabe filmmaker named Ismail (Homeland's Suraj Sharma, who really showcases his comedic chops here), at the local school where she works part-time, the two form an instant bond. Inspired by Wes's desire to be true to his inner self and reconnect with "his people," they embark on the journey of a lifetime.
 
If Wes were any older, the story would sound like something meant for Jason Schwartzman in the mid-'90s, but Burn Your Maps is an emotional and engaging coming-of-age story that's as delightful as it is likely disarming to audiences with stronger prejudices. And if you're not thinking too hard about the subject matter, it's a pretty entertaining picture, too. (D Films)