Offering solid family drama with a cross-cultural theme, Gaurav Seth’s Canadian feature “A Passage to Ottawa” deftly mixes humor and romance with a poignant central focus on a small boy’s coming to terms with parental loss. Offshore tube sales beckon.
Flown from India to stay with an uncle’s family in Ottawa, 8-year-old Omi is assumed to understand his mother won’t follow — she’s hospitalized back home, dying from tuberculosis. In fact, Omi hasn’t grasped this at all, and in his mind, problem only requires a “superhero” who can somehow rescue her from illness. In his roamings around the city, he encounters tourist boat captain Roland (Jim Codrington), an African-Canadian who boasts the qualifications of being “big and strong and honest and smart and good.” Those qualities also attract Omi’s cousin Safia (Amy Sobol), who’s pining for a little escape from her parents’ expectations, their Indian fashion shop, and supervising the little boy. Latter’s innocent perspective leads to a crisis of misunderstanding, though it all works out to pleasing, sympathetic results. After a stilted start, nicely written drama ingratiates, with Codrington’s perf especially winning. Good use is made of handsome city locations.