The Watchman's Canoe

Watch The Watchman's Canoe

  • 2018
  • 1 hr 41 min
  • 5.3  (155)

The Watchman's Canoe is a 2017 drama film directed by Barri Chase and written by Chase and Steve Anderson. The film follows Jesse (played by Adam Beach), a troubled Native American man who reunites with his brother and heads north to the small village of Makah. The brothers' main objective is to retrieve a sacred canoe that was stolen from their tribe many years ago. Along the way, Jesse confronts his past and the cultural differences that exist in the community he once called home.

The film opens with a tense scene of Jesse being released from prison. He is met by his brother, and they immediately hit the road towards the Pacific Northwest. As they travel, they discuss their family history and their cultural heritage, providing the viewer with glimpses into their past. The dialogue is poignant, and the performances by both Beach and Roger Willie are honest and nuanced.

Upon arriving in Makah, the brothers discover that the stolen canoe is being kept in a local museum. The museum curator, Kate (played by Stephanie Wallace), is initially hesitant to give the canoe back to its rightful owners, but eventually comes around after hearing their story. Kate is not a Native American, but she is respectful of their culture and willing to learn from it. Her character serves as a bridge between the two worlds, and her performance is both empathetic and thought-provoking.

The film's title is a reference to the role of the watchman in Makah culture. The watchman is responsible for guarding the safety and well-being of the community, and the canoe is believed to have spiritual powers that can guide them. The stolen canoe represents a loss of identity and a trauma that still reverberates through the community. The brothers' quest to retrieve it is seen as a way to right a wrong and heal some of the rifts that have developed.

The pacing of The Watchman's Canoe is deliberate, allowing the viewer to absorb the beautiful scenery and the cultural nuances. The cinematography is stunning, with shots of the ocean and forests that convey a deep respect for nature. The direction is assured, with long takes that allow the actors to inhabit their characters fully.

One of the film's strengths is its exploration of the complexities of Native American identity. Jesse is a character who has been disconnected from his culture for many years, and his journey is a way of reconnecting with it. However, he is not a perfect hero, and his struggles with alcoholism and anger are depicted with a raw honesty. The film does not shy away from depicting the trauma that has been inflicted upon Native American communities, but it also portrays the resilience and beauty of their cultures.

Overall, The Watchman's Canoe is a poignant and moving film that explores themes of cultural identity, trauma, and healing. It is a triumph of independent cinema, with a strong cast and beautiful direction. The film challenges its viewers to question their own assumptions about Native American culture and the legacies of colonialism. It is a must-see for anyone interested in social justice, cultural preservation, and the power of storytelling.

The Watchman's Canoe is a 2018 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 41 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.3.

Where to Watch The Watchman's Canoe
The Watchman's Canoe is available to watch free on Plex and Tubi TV. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at FuboTV, Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent The Watchman's Canoe for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 41 min
  • IMDB Rating
    5.3  (155)