Once Upon A River: Review

Once Upon A River

Margo Crane (Kenadi DelaCerna) lives with her father, Bernard (Tatanka Means) and lives a quiet life by the river. However, Margo soon attracts the attention of an older man and after a series of traumatic event, Margo finds herself alone and pregnant. Having only her mother to turn to, Margo decides that the time is right to find her and so she sets off down the river in her boat, The River Rose to get to know the mother who left her behind.

Once Upon a River is a sweet, poignant and thought provoking coming of age drama written and directed by Haroula Rose and based on Bonnie Jo Campbell’s novel of the same name.

As Margo makes her way on her journey to find her family, she meets a few characters who give her unforgettable experiences, and as she touches their lives, she starts to realise that family isn’t always in the blood, but who’s closest to you.



Once Upon a River has some great performances, particularly from DelaCerna herself in her first acting role who manages to hold the focus of the film all by herself which is no mean feat for a first-time actor.

Margo’s river ride also takes her to meet a cantankerous but lovable man named Smoke, (John Ashton) and an unusual friendship starts to form as Margo feels as close to him as she would her own grandfather. This even leads to her returning after she does find her mother, making Margo realise that being with Smoke is where she feels most comfortable.

Once Upon a River is beautifully shot and although the story may not show its audience anything new, it’s often not about the destination, but how you get there. Rose knows who the film’s audience will be and so despite its first few scenes, Once Upon a River is a relaxing ride with barely a bump along the way which will relax its audience and give them hope for Margo’s future.

The film shows that just because life doesn’t always go the way that we want it to go, it doesn’t mean that we don’t end up where we’re meant to be.


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Joel found out that he had a talent for absorbing film trivia at a young age. Ever since then he has probably watched more films than the average human being, not because he has no filter but because it’s one of the most enjoyable, fulfilling and enriching experiences that a person can have. He also has a weak spot for bad sci-fi/horror movies because he is a huge geek and doesn’t care who knows it.

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