Mothers are often praised for their unrelenting love and resilience. Doing whatever it takes to protect one’s child is viewed as an inherent part of the maternal instinct. However, this seemingly noble deed is mainly viewed through a prism of heroism. Rarely is the moral conundrum that can often apply considered. Thomas Michael’s thriller Nowhere explores the thin line that divides these two ideals.

Looking for a fresh start, widower Claire (Kate Drummond) and her daughter Sarah (Nell Verlaque) move from Chicago to the small town of Mattawa where Claire is set to become Vice Principle at the local school. While not thrilled to leave the big city behind, Sarah is excited to make the Mattawa Vipers basketball team. However, when Sarah does not return home after her first night out with her new teammates Claire is sent into a panic.

Making matters worse is that no one in the town seems troubled by her daughter’s disappearance. In fact, everyone including the coach, Ruth (Rya Kihlstedt), is more concerned with how this brewing scandal will impact the basketball team. As Claire begins a desperate search for her daughter and is harassed by locals for starting a “witch hunt” that disrupts their community, she begins to find clues that something sinister might be bubbling under the quaint town’s surface.

Nowhere 2019

Ramping up the tension swiftly, Nowhere wastes no time in putting viewer’s in Claire’s frenzied state. The film plays on the parental fear that one’s child could be taken away at any minute without warning. This sense of unease is nicely encapsulated by the performances in the film. Kate Drummond gives a strong turn as Clarie, ensuring that the character’s unrelenting love for her daughter is never overshadowed by the paranoia that attempts to consume her. Drummond’s work is equally matched by the wonderfully icy performance by Kihlstedt, who brings a surprisingly layered feel to a character that could have easily been one-note.

The passive aggressive battle of wills that the Clarie and Ruth find themselves in is fascinating, especially as each one, initially at least, only has their daughter’s best interest in mind. While the line between right and wrong should be obvious, Michael’s film shows how easily some are willing to ignore the line completely.

Where the film falters a bit is in its handling of the villains. In revealing those responsible so quickly, the central question is less about why Sarah disappeared than it is why those involved continuing to do what they do. This inadvertently dilutes some of the chilling aspects that the film initially builds.

Despite not quite being the edge-of-your-seat nail-biter it strives for, Nowhere manages to maintain one’s interest thanks to the great work by Drummond and Kihlstedt. It is a film that will have one questioning the price of a mother’s love and who ultimately pays because of it.

Friday, March 22, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre