The Observer Movie Review: ‘Virginia Minnesota’ tackles love, loss and growing pains

Katie Johns – April 16th, 2018

When a film opens with a narration about a mythical legend, it can go in a variety of directions.

Usually, the narration tells us right then and there what storyline is about to unfold.

In “Virginia, Minnesota,” however, the storyline is unclear, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Simply put, the movie follows two female 20-somethings, Lyle (Rachel Hendrix) and Addison (Aurora Perrineau). The two, who lost touch after leaving Larsmont Blunt Home for Girls, are reunited after their former caretaker dies. The two (and their former roommates) must be present for a reading of her will, and predictably, one of them (read: the stubborn and rebellious Addison) doesn’t really feel like showing up.

What ensues is Lyle, a struggling blogger whose travel companion is a blue robot suitcase with Mr. Potato Head-like hands and feet named Mister, hopping in her old Honda and driving to her (and Addison’s) childhood hometown of Grand Marais, Minnesota.

It’s there we meet Addison, a partial lost soul who is making a living as a boat guide telling the lore of Grand Marais’ version of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

At first Addison’s reasons for not returning are unclear and not totally valid, but eventually, the reasons are detangled as hints of tragedy are woven throughout the script. Lyle and Addison were torn apart following a tragedy, and this road trip opens old wounds (and eventually closes them).

Eventually, we come full circle to the opening narration — but only after 45 minutes of legends coming to life, mother-daughter angst flaring up and pent-up grievances being aired.

It took awhile for me to appreciate what was happening. The dramedy, a coming-of-age tale at its core, brings deeper meaning once the circle has been rounded out.

That deeper meaning, one that first-time feature director Daniel Stine hinted at during a Q&A at the Sarasota Film Festival April 15, comes from a little girl named Virginia. The movie, he explained, is essentially from the perspective of Virginia, a young girl we never meet, but one who was like a younger sister to Addison and Lyle.

She is our invisible narrator. It’s a story of the legends she believed in – legends her counterparts at the Larsmont Bluff Home for Girls never got to believe in because they didn’t grow up in ordinary homes. They grew up looking out for her.

Despite the 20 minutes of chaos and predictability in the woods in which Lyle and Addison’s roadtrip back to Larsmont Bluff goes astray, the film shines with its tones of growing pains; loss and moving on; and an analysis of female friendships.

The legend in the beginning of the movie tells the tale of a viking who lost his daughter on Lake Superior. He searches and searches, but he never finds her.

In the literal sense, this film is not about that. It’s about much more.

It’s about finding yourself and getting over loss. It’s about rekindling friendships, letting go of the past and growing from it.

It’s about believing.