Over the past few years, actress Jenna Ortega has become a household name. While she’s worked in TV and film from a young age, Ortega’s roles in horror-centric projects like Scream, X, and (of course) Netflix’s Wednesday has resulted in her having a strong and vocal fanbase. But her talent also lies outside of all things spooky, and her role in the new crime drama Finestkind proves she’s a bonafide movie star.
Finestkind recently had its premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, which CinemaBlend is in attendance for. The movie is written and directed by Brian Helgeland (42, Man on Fire), and features a strong cast including Ben Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, and Toby Wallace. The film follows estranged brothers Charlie and Tom (Wallace and Foster), who are fishermen off the coast of Massachusetts. As they reconnect and start working together for the summer, Charlie starts a relationship with Ortega’s Mabel, who comes from a family of drug dealers.
While Tom tries to teach Charlie his dangerous trade, it soon becomes clear that there are threats both on land and on the water. The team of fishers make a gamble going into Canadian water to score a haul of scallops, and are caught by the coast guard and fined a whopping $100k. Following this the brothers and Mabel cook up a scheme to do a one-time drug run in order to pay the fine. From there things go from bad to worse, as they deal with a violent and dangerous heroin kingpin.
Finestkind has some charming comedic moments, but things also get very tense as a result of the drugrunning plot line. Jenna Ortega’s performance is a real standout, as she goes from a child actress to playing a formidable independent woman. There’s no masked killer or Addams Family characters for her to interact with, but her natural charisma and emotionality don't need those IPs to shine.
Another standout performance in this movie comes from the legendary Tommy Lee Jones. He plays Tom’s cantankerous father Ray, a man who lives in purposeful isolation. But when a medical crisis arises, he tries to make changes and connect more– especially with his son. Jones has both hilarious line deliveries and heartfelt moments throughout which show why he’s had such a long and celebrated career.
Unfortunately, Helgeland’s script doesn’t always work, despite the heartfelt performances by Finestkind’s cast. At my screening of the movie there were a number of moments where the audience laughed at the dialogue– even during the movie’s high stakes moments. There’s one particular line that serves as the movie’s mission statement, which unfortunately got less and less effective the more it was repeated. And some character’s choices were truly baffling, especially in the way the movie ultimately wraps up.
It’s unclear when Finestkind will be released, but it will eventually be available with a Paramount+ subscription. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.