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Year: 1986
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 98 min
Director: Anne Wheeler
Producer: Ronald Lillie, William Johnston
Writer: Sharon Riis
Cinematographer: Vic Sarin
Editor: Judy Krupanzky
Sound: Garrell Clark
Music: Michael Baker
Cast: Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Diane Debassige, Vera Martin, Susan Wooldridge, Kenneth Welsh, Tom Jackson, Tantoo Cardinal
Production Company: Dumbarton Films, Lauron International

David Sutton (Welsh), a physician, and his wife, Lily (Wooldridge), are the model of middle-class British comfort, security and composure. So what brings them to the remote village of Lac La Biche in northern Alberta? The local residents can't understand it. Aloof and alone, Lily provides no answers, although her alienation lifts somewhat as she becomes friends with Rosanne, a Métis woman (Cardinal), whom the doctor has hired as a housekeeper. A vivacious single mother with profound attachments to her cultural and spiritual ancestry, Rosanne elicits an unusual sense of trust and affection from the customarily reticent Lily. Their friendship transcends the gulfs of culture and economics, and eventually tests the bonds of family loyalties.

When the doctor, who is gradually becoming a pillar of the small community, realizes that Rosanne and Lily’s relationship threatens to unearth the terrible secret that drove him and his wife to Lac La Biche in the first place, Loyalties takes a compelling but oddly inevitable turn to the horrific.

Wheeler's debut feature is deeply rooted in the Canadian west, where the sublimely beautiful landscape, the pioneering spirit of immigration and Native people and culture intermingle. Still considered by many to be her best work to date, Loyalties displays a sensitivity to psychological nuances and understated suspense, which points to an impressive cinematic talent.

From the beginning of her filmmaking career, Wheeler has been respected as a committed feminist capable of making socially engaging documentaries and dramas with a personal and sensitive touch minus the melodrama. Vic Sarin’s spacious, elegant cinematography and Tantoo Cardinal’s performance as Rosanne are unforgettable.