Darkest Miriam is a captivating drama grounded by the hauntingly beautiful performance of Britt Lower: Tribeca Film Festival Review

There’s a subtlety and quietness to Darkest Miriam that continually laces this sad, yet captivating drama, with Britt Lower‘s haunting central performance adding a poetry to proceedings that beautifully captures those watching.

In a Toronto neighbourhood, Miriam (Lower) lives a quiet life as a librarian, seemingly content with her daily routine of shuffling through the stacks of books and eating her lunch alone in the park.  Whether she’s alone or lonely isn’t entirely certain; though, through dryly delivered observations, we learn her own sense of humour as she describes the many disruptive visitors the library receives at one time, with “Suitcase Man”, “Fainting Man”, and “Unusually Pale Female Patron” just some of the nicknames she dubs to certain customers, all for obvious reasons.

Writer/director Naomi Jaye initially suggests an almost aimlessness to both Miriam’s existence and the film’s narrative flow, but the introduction of Janko (Tom Mercier), a Slovenian taxi driver and artist, quietly shifts the trajectory, with his own calm mentality matching Miriam’s.

There’s an obvious beauty to their union, but as the film continues we see Miriam’s exercising a certain sense of self-preservation, hiding trauma behind her calm exterior.  Her telling Janko that her father is alive is one of the main keys of her keeping people at an arm’s length, with the reveal that he has in fact passed speaking to something deeper and more tragic.  “Darkest Miriam”, as Janko nicknames her, seems more and more fitting as the tight 87 minutes pass.

Audiences who need a sense of closure may not necessarily respond to Darkest Miriam, with Jaye all too happy to leave certain questions unanswered.  There’s a lot for us to piece together, and Lower’s expressive, nuanced performance assists in this, and the film is all the better for living in a space of an evocative nature.

There is a heartbreaking additive towards the back-end of the film that proves particularly painful to endure, but such is the beauty of Jaye’s manoeuvring of her story and Lower’s embodiment of Miriam, this tragedy pushes towards a certain hopeful temperament.  And it’s the film’s commitment to finding the light in such darkness that compels us to submit to such melancholia.


Darkest Miriam is screening as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, running between June 5th and 16th, 2024.  For more information head to the official Tribeca Film Festival page.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.