Not the new Zendaya-starring TV show, or Lisa Langseth’s Eva Green / Alicia Vikander mystery, or indeed any of the other myriad Euphorias listed on IMDB, Euphoria (2013) is a dreary mother-daughter drama from Paula Kelly.
After her mother abducts her from her family home, little girl Lily grows up on the road. Now a young woman named Michelle, she runs away from her mum’s motel room to find the truth of her mysterious past.
Euphoria feels like a muddled made-for-TV melodrama with indie darling pretentions that, much like its meandering characters, goes absolutely nowhere.
As she journeys home across Canada, Michelle hops from one inexplicably hospitable family to the next without really discovering anything about herself. Similarly, we’re given little insight as to why her mother took her away besides some rambling flashbacks, and there are no real hints of a deep, dark family secret to drive the narrative.
There are shades of Debra Granik in the film’s storytelling, as a young woman strikes out from under the shadow of her parent’s questionable life choices in search of her own truths, but the comparison is a generous one. Unfortunately, there’s none of Winter’s Bone’s chilly thrills or Leave No Trace’s pensive nuance here.
Brooke Palsson’s performance as Michelle isn’t a bad one, but it lacks the emotional weight and magnetism to truly engage the audience with the story. The script feels likewise perfunctory, and while there was real potential to wring tension out of Lily and Michelle’s conflicting stories, the two timelines never entwine with any dramatic impact.
That said, the film is nicely shot at times, and Shawn Pierce’s poignant post-rock-inspired score is perhaps the best thing about it.
Euphoria is available to stream now.
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