Eight TIFF flicks with fierce female leads

Eight TIFF flicks with fierce female leads

Luckily, not every movie at TIFF is as jock-stocked as The Magnificent Seven. Here, eight badass actresses in as many movies


Director: Dennis Villeneuve
Our eye is on: Amy Adams
Amy Adams plays a linguistics expert recruited by the military to communicate with aliens. She spends most of her screen time dismantling syntax and grammar, yet still somehow finds a way to shine.


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 Photograph courtesy of TIFF
Free Fire

Director: Ben Wheatley
Our eye is on: Brie Larson
Larson won an Oscar for being held in a room. Turns out she does just as well when she’s trapped in a Mexican standoff in an abandoned warehouse. As the lone woman in a no-holds-barred gunfight, Larson proves that anything the guys can do, she can do better.


The Handmaiden

Director: Park Chan-Wook
Our eye is on: Kim Tae-Ri
Kim Tae-Ri’s first big-screen role has a visceral depth that only the legendary Park Chan-Wook can evoke. Her character, a petty thief turned lady’s maid, straddles the line between loyalty and self-preservation as her respect for her mistress slowly turns to passionate love.


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 Photograph courtesy of TIFF

Director: Walter Hill
Our eye is on: Michelle Rodriguez
The veteran tough girl takes on the gender binaries in her most convoluted role yet: a male killer forced to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. Rodriguez’s every move on screen is consumed by the vengeance she seeks on the doctor who performed the operation.


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 Photograph courtesy of TIFF

Director: Martin Koolhoven
Our eye is on: Dakota Fanning
In this tale about frontier fervour gone awry, Dakota Fanning plays a midwife trying to save both herself and her family from a pseudo-religious persecution.


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 Photograph courtesy of TIFF

Director: Onur Tukel
Our eye is on: Sandra Oh
The light-hearted black comedy stars Sandra Oh as one of two old friends who reconnect and realize that neither is quite what the other remembers. Bonus: the film features a bloody battle in a stairwell that reveals physical comedy chops we didn’t know Oh had.


The Arbitration

Director: Niki Akinmolayan
Our eye is on: Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, a TIFF Rising Star
This courtroom drama captures a disturbing, age-old tradition: men who dismiss sexual assault allegations as lies from spurned ex-lovers. Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama delivers a grounded, multi-faceted performance as a demonized woman on the hunt for justice.


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 Photograph courtesy of TIFF

Director (and Writer): Alice Lowe
Our eye is on: Alice Lowe
Doing triple duty in this film doesn’t stop Lowe from delivering a wonderfully quirky performance as an expectant mother whose baby seems to be encouraging her to commit murder.