Published Mar 23, 2020In the midst of COVID-19 mania, Canadian Strain provides some great one-liners, thrilling action, and heartwarming relationships to help pass, uh, the time in isolation.
The film follows Anne (Jess Salgueiro), a weed dealer navigating a post-legalization world. If you're looking for an accurate portrayal of legalization, this is not it, but it does provide a hypothetical glimpse into the choices forced on people like Anne once cannabis became legal.
Sure, we're not shopping at CDCBO stores, as envisioned by a Wynne-era government, and Shoppers Drug Mart doesn't actually give you Optimum points on your stash (bummer), but the struggles Anne faces are real.
"I fought for legalization," she tells Luke (Benjamin Ayres), the police officer friend who wants to be more. "I should be celebrating, not looking over my fucking shoulder."
In a world of Tinder-inspired ordering apps and government-run storefronts, Anne struggles to find a place to still sell "the McDonald's of drugs" without giving in to the capitalist machine. After a series of misfortunes, she finds herself spending the night in a playground, wondering what to do next. Connecting with drug lords (Natalie Brown, sexy and scary as Valerie), pressure to sell more in-demand product (read: harder drugs), and losing clients left and right sees her nearly get arrested.
The strongest part of the film, aside from some kickass female characters, lies in the relationships. Anne tries to remain true to her purist roots, because "at least weed helps people," and part of the magic of cannabis is the connections it forges between people.
From Anne's Grandma ("OG" in Anne's phone, played by Marcia Bennett), the pot-smoking GILF who bangs younger dudes and smokes out of a penis bong, to Anne's father, Jack (Colin Mochrie), whose memory she calls up when in need of guidance, the characters close to her provide a glimpse into the impact Anne has on her clients and the people she helps.
Naomi Snieckus is hilarious as Judy, the CDCBO employee who takes Anne under her wing, and Nelu Handa brings boss bitch vibes to her role as Adeela, Anne's college best friend who's recently gone legit.
Canadian Strain is a fun watch that features some top-notch Canadian talent and familiar Toronto haunts. You'll probably appreciate it more if you're a cannabis fan, but the film still gives some good laughs and "screw the man" attitude that anyone can get on board with.
(Pacific Northwest Pictures)