Major Arcana

Movie Information

A man returns to his hometown in Vermont following the death of his father and is forced to confront all the people and things he ran away from.
Genre: Drama
Director: Josh Melrod
Starring: Ujon Tokarski, Lane Bradbury, Tara Summers, Collen Doyle and Rachel Donahue
Rated: NR

One of the best things about indie narrative films is that they tend to mirror life in raw and uncanny ways. But in Major Arcana, these qualities are so pronounced that viewers who seek films primarily for escapism and entertainment could find themselves emotionally overwhelmed.

From the outset, the drama by Josh Melrod (a veteran editor, making his writing/directing debut) features an unmistakably palpable sense of sorrow that slivers through each mostly dialogue-free frame. Enhancing this tone is a rustic, squalid vibe and a main character, Dink (Ujon Tokarski), who seems especially resigned and quietly tortured.

Back in his small Vermont hometown after a sudden, unannounced four-year absence, Dink endures the scorn of those still upset by his surprise departure, namely his family and his ex, Sierra (Tara Summers). Having received his own surprise in the form of 53 acres and 15 grand, willed to him by his recently-deceased father, he puts his carpentry skills to work and begins building a cabin on his new land.

When not hammering nails, Dink pounds away at his inherited alcoholic demons, most of which come courtesy of his mother, Jean (Lane Bradbury), who seems to genuinely loathe herself, her son and her dead spouse. The few times when Tokarski and Bradbury share a space, we witness their characters’ strong disdain for one another. And in these moments, it’s abundantly clear why Dink ran away — and why he now feels a deep need for genuine change — though these intense exchanges also provide a good deal of welcome dark comic relief. Here and elsewhere, the actors seem so honest and believable that it almost made my very aura sweat and cry.

Major Arcana begins a bit slow and dark but piques one’s interest more as time progresses. Although this film did not leave me feeling warm or overjoyed, I would watch it again for the realism alone.

Available to rent starting Oct. 9 via


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