Frankie Crossley – March 11th, 2018
In his first feature film, Daniel Stine’s Virginia Minnesota stars Aurora Perrineau and Rachel Hendrix as two long lost friends, reunited on a 24-hour road trip.
Virginia Minnesota is one of those films that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. A story about belief and innocence, it reflects on how the traumas we face as children shape our future and how we see ourselves, with a heartwarming message at its core.
Aurora Perrineau is sublime as Addison, the surly twenty-something working a summer job she hates as a tour guide in a chocolate-box village, Grand Marais, on the banks of Lake Superior. As a former child tearaway living in a foster home, Aurora’s life is a mundane sequence of moments, made worse by her apathy towards her fiancee.
Opposite her stars Rachel Hendrix as Lyle. Having grown up together, Lyle and Addison have a fair degree of antipathy towards each other when they first meet after several years. Little do we know that the tragic death of a young girl at which the two were present, has tainted their lives and cast a shadow over their futures. For Rachel, this trauma manifests itself in her love and mothering of a computerized suitcase, which she talks to and protects like a child.
His debut feature film, writer/director Daniel Stine masterfully weaves the heritage, beauty, and myths of the Iron Range into his road-trip turned coming of age story as the two young women make their way to the home where they grew up to see what their former guardian left them in their will. From mountain men reminiscent of Bigfoot to mermaids and lost Viking daughters, the child-like quality of the narrative serves to heighten the sense of emotional fragility of the young women.
With a quirky soundtrack including original music from Gary Dworetsky and toe-tapping road trip music from Gregory Alan Isakov, myth and reality is sown together with ease and provides a charming backdrop for the women to air their closeted memories. A drama comedy, it has a little something of Captain Fantastic about it.
Having previously worked with Stine on God and Vodka and Grape, Pedro Ciampolini’s cinematography blends the scenic landscape of Minnesota’s northeast border with infantilized storytelling techniques; huge, furry sasquatch-esque monsters and all.
Part road trip comedy, part bildungsroman, Virginia Minnesota captures the imagination and flutters the heartstrings, reminding us what it was like to be young and carefree, all the while prompting us that we needn’t loose our innocence simply because we have to grow up.