Ellen Burstyn gives a tour-de-force performance in this much-anticipated adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s landmark Canadian novel. The story leaps onto the screen with elegance and ease, beautifully fulfilling the emotional power of the original work.
As flinty and immovable as the Stone Angel itself, Hagar Shipley is defined by the fierce pride she inherited from her father. Facing imminent death, and refusing to yield even to mortality, Hagar’s mind conflates past and present as she makes a final grasp for independence, finding instead an unexpected and humbling reconciliation.
Now living with her son Marvin (Dylan Baker), elderly Hagar (Burstyn) is brought to a nursing home – to see what she thinks. Her response is easily predicted, and she later bolts from her son’s house, determined to find a seaside home she remembers from her youth. Throughout this journey, chapters in her life coalesce and we come to know the radiant young woman – scion of her father’s mercantile empire – who is disowned when she marries the rough, bold Bram Shipley (Cole Hauser). Romantic illusions soon dissipate, and Hagar begins to think her husband is beneath her. Her disdain for him, exacerbated by discontent with her own unfulfilled ambitions, incites a hereditary flaw as she denies her children the parental approval she so desired from her father. In the present, Hagar finds her way to the seashore, but has little time left to amend a lifetime of unacknowledged mistakes.
- Award for Achievement in Filmmaking (13th Annual Stony Brook Film Festival, July 2008)
- Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Ellen Burstyn, 29th Annual Genie Awards, 4th April 2009)
- Achievement in Music - Original Score (John McCarthy, 29th Annual Genie Awards, 4th April 2009)
- "Compelling...Burstyn hands in the performance of a lifetime!" (Katherine Monk, Canwest News Service)
- "Amazing...unbelievably good." (Canada AM)
- "A touching drama that will make Canadians proud" (Flare Magazine)
- "Rich with performances...portrayed vividly...newcomer Christine Horne illuminates Hagar's vulnerability and grants the film its fiercest spark." (Kevin Williamson, Sun Media)
- "Ellen Burstyn and Christine Horne are aces" (Toronto Star)
- "Burstyn and Horne give vivid life to the difficult character of Hagar." (Randall King, Winnipeg Free Press)
- "Ellen Burstyn's performance could easily earn her a seventh Oscar nomination!" (Chris Atchison, Metro Toronto)