Sundance 2021: Marvelous and the Black Hole

Sammy’s been misbehaving at school and copping an attitude at home. You might be tempted to give her a pass considering she’s a teenager who has recently lost her mother, but Sammy’s dad is not. He’s had it up to here with her, and believe me, I’m indicating a pretty high marker over here. He’s threatening the equivalent of military school, but she’ll get one last chance that involves acing a college business course he’s forcing her to take. It’s lame and she’s not happy, especially since they’re supposed to choose a local business person to interview. To do the absolute minimum required, Sammy (Miya Cech) interrogates a nosy woman she meets in a public washroom.

“Magician” is not on the approved list of business people, but Margot the Marvelous (Rhea Perlman) is hard to deny. Certainly the kindergarteners for whom she performs are mesmerized by her work. Even surly, sulky Sammy is drawn in, practicing magic in secret, longing to be invited to one of Margot’s “salons.” Of course, this also means she’s skipping class to pursue a very much dad-unsanctioned pastime with a woman he doesn’t even know exists. Sammy isn’t really worried about pleasing her father right now because he’s just announced his engagement to a new woman, who, you know, isn’t Sammy’s dead mom. Which means DRAMA.

Marvelous and the Black Hole exists to to add sweetness and light to your cinematic experience this year. Resilience and perspective are at the heart of this unlikely, oddball little intergenerational friendship founded in common pain. Miya Cech gives a believable performance as a bad girl, all brooding and sass, who’s not actually that bad, just hurting and lost. Meanwhile, Perlman’s special brand of snark is a quirky treat. Together they have a kismet that just kind of works.

We’ve seen a million coming of age tales and this one may be conventional but it’s still worthy of a watch. Director Kate Tsang’s imagination lends itself to some flashy sequences that help distinguish it from the pack. Marvelous and the Black Hole falls short of movie magic but it is cute and it is kind and it is relentlessly warm-hearted.

4 thoughts on “Sundance 2021: Marvelous and the Black Hole

  1. StephLove

    I was considering this one for my family movie night nomination list, but I can’t find a rating anywhere, and North’s not allowed to watch R-rated movies yet. (We’ll probably get there soon.) I wonder if it’s not rated yet.

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    Reply

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