DISCLAIMER: The director of this film did put in a Ko-Fi donation for me to review this film specifically, but I will not be biased towards the film because of this.

For the third edition of Cup of Ko-Fi, this one may be the most exciting yet. Film director Liz Singh (who you can follow on Twitter here) sent me a screener of her first feature as a director, The Lower Plateau. Starting its festival run in Canada in 2018, it is still going around the circuit in Canada, the USA and even some online festivals.

The Lower Plateau (2018) is a comedy-drama set in Montreal, Canada and made with a very small budget. Written and directed by first-time feature director, Liz Singh, the cast includes Nikki Shaffeeullah, Lily-Dionne Jermanovich and Tristan D. Lalla. Musician Jaine (Shaffeeullah) mourns for the downfall of her career, whilst struggling to cope with what everyone close by wants her to do. She has to figure out if staying in Montreal is the best thing for her.

The Lower Plateau (2018) - source: Depanneur Films

What I have loved about watching a bunch of independent films recently is how raw and real they feel in comparison to big-budget films. There is no heavy stereotypes or dramatic moments, as films like this focus in or real experiences. I fully believed that these characters are real because they are so well developed and acted by the entire cast. It is easy to get lost in a world like this because it is grounded in reality, which I appreciate.

Nikki Shaffeeullah shines in the lead role of this film, Jaine. She is somebody who is able to express different emotions, as well as perform on several different levels. She is believable as a musician as well due to her amazing vocal performance which is showcased here. The entire cast is great here, and there was nobody dragging down the film or putting in a bad performance at all.

The editing of this film is superb, and not just on the basic level of cutting. The length of the film, at about 90 minutes, is the perfect length of a film like this. It had enough time to flesh out and fully develop the story but not to drag it on or to force filler moments. What I especially loved about the editing was some of the post-production work, which included the fun sequences in the gaming scenes and the text bubbles. Not only did this add personality to the film, but also added some story elements that didn't need to be said out loud in an awkward manner.

The Lower Plateau (2018) - source: Depanneur Films

The story itself is one that has been done several times, but this may be one of the most realistic and grounded versions of it. Normally, if somebody is feeling isolated or lost about their future, it either feels overdramatic or badly explained. Here, the narrative makes sense for the character of Jaine and her alongside the supporting roles do not seem unreasonable in their thoughts. The story is well thought out which helps create a cohesive and strong story.

There are some scenes in here that I think could have either been scripted or performed a little better from a technical point. The main example here is the gaming sequences, in which I did not buy into the fact that they were actually playing a game. The way that both actors are using the controllers feels fake and purely for act. This is just a minor point, but it is one that would have overall tied the sequences together.

I also would have liked even further development of certain characters and moments, to truly buy into the story and fully connect with Jaine and her friends. I loved the development and plot of Jaine with her relationship with David, but I would have liked to have either seen more of it as a main plot of the story or to see a real consequence to that relationship hit.

The Lower Plateau (2018) - source: Depanneur Films

For a directorial debut on a small budget, this film is superb. It is technically strong in terms of filmmaking and also a sweet and simple story which helps you connect to the characters. It feels grounded and genuine, which I love from indie films such as this one. If you get a chance to check this out at any point, either in its film festival run or when it appears online, I would definitely recommend it.

3.5/5

Have you been able to check out The Lower Plateau yet? Will you be checking it out and supporting smaller filmmakers? Let me know in the comments below and let's have a discussion.

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