Following the murder of their parents, Antigone, her sister Ismène, her brothers Étéocle and Polynice, and their grandmother Ménécée find refuge in Montréal. They live a quiet modest life in a tiny apartment in a working-class neighbourhood. A straight-A student seemingly destined for greatness, Antigone (masterfully played by Nahéma Ricci in her first leading role) is the glue that holds the family together. Tragedy strikes when Étéocle is wrongfully gunned down by police during the arrest of Polynice, a small-time drug dealer. Motivated by her sense of duty towards her family and fuelled by the memory she cherishes of her dead parents, Antigone decides to jeopardize her own future to preserve that of her family.
In Deraspe’s heartbreaking reimagining of the classic Greek tragedy, Antigone (Nahéma Ricci) is a 17-year-old, straight-A student in Montreal.
After fleeing to Canada as a child after the death of her parents (related to an unspecified conflict in her homeland), Antigone, her grandmother and three siblings
Best Canadian movie Canada Goose award, Toronto International Film Festival (2019)
build a modest immigrant life for themselves. That all shatters after the police shoot her eldest brother, Étéocle (Hakim Brahimi), and threaten to deport her other brother, Polynice (Rawad El-Zein), for involvement in gang violence. Loyal to a fault, Antigone hatches a plan to break her brother out of prison before his deportation, which sets off a sequence of events that are out of her control.
The film is an incisive critique of the power imbalance between citizens and immigrants and the hypocrisy of an unjust justice system. It jolts the viewer out of complacency. Deraspe makes a smart decision to only show the fatal shooting in shaky cellphone-quality images, which illustrates the horror and chaos in the same way people view viral police shooting videos on Twitter. Ricci proves how she earned a spot on this year’s TIFF Rising Stars list with a performance exhibiting both the immense resolve and unhinged distress of a girl in crisis, fighting to save her family.
— Kelsey Adams, NOW
Critically acclaimed Québécois filmmaker Sophie Deraspe’s provocative and timely adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy of the same name reimagines the story of a woman’s quest for justice as a commentary on the immigrant experience in contemporary Montréal.
Gripping, powerful, and of-the-moment, Antigone loosely adapts Sophocles' Greek tragedy and situates it in contemporary Montréal. The latest from critically acclaimed Québécois writer-director Sophie Deraspe (The Wolves, The Amina Profile) is a compassionate family drama that doesn't hold back on its indictment of the current refugee and immigrant experience in North America (…)
Antigone acutely explores familial sacrifice, the burden of responsibility, and the nature of justice with exceptional depth and nuance. Although inspired by a story 2,500 years old, Deraspe's film is a timely meditation, one that prompts serious reflection on immigrant life in ostensibly welcoming contemporary Canada.
— Ravi Srinivasan, Toronto International Film Festival