Canada, for whatever reasons, has been relatively untouched by political extremism in the last few decades. That age of innocence came to an end in 1982, when a power plant was blown up by a group calling itself Direct Action. Shortly after that, a Litton plant making cruise missile
guidance systems was destroyed, and the same group claimed responsibility. Their next target was a number of pornographic video stores that were firebombed. Some time later, Canadian officials announced arrests, the bombings stopped, and, apart from a brief notice of convictions, little more was
heard of Direct Action. The interest of director Paul Donovan and producer Bernard Zukerman was aroused by all this, and they determined to investigate what it was that made ordinarily peaceable Canadians take to political violence. Contacting the five convicted terrorists, they found only one
willing to cooperate with them--a young woman who was the last to join the group. Based on interviews with this woman and transcripts of wiretaps, they created a screenplay that details how she became caught up in the political fanaticism of others through a combination of good intentions and
gullibility. In THE SQUAMISH FIVE, Stevan plays the woman, a hospital worker in Vancouver who leads a double life as a punk rocker. At a protest rally she meets McManus, a longtime extremist well known to the police. After offering to help design a poster for him, she is gradually accepted into
the group, which includes McManus' girl friend (who was radicalized when she and her former lover were both raped by bikers and police did nothing to help), a pair of lesbian separatists, and a fellow known as Dog who leads a Spartan existence and refuses to participate in any action outside of
British Columbia. Stevan also involves her boy friend, a punk musician who just likes to play with guns. Enlisted to play what she thinks will be a minor part in the bombing of the Litton plant, she ends up providing the police's only clue when they tape the warning call she made. Police quickly
implicate McManus and bug the house the group lives in. They, meanwhile, are busily planning their next operation, the robbery of an armored car. They travel to the woods for training, where tensions rise among the group's members. Dog refuses to take part, citing his own agenda; McManus' girl
friend accuses him of lusting after Stevan; and everyone bemoans Stevan's lack of real political commitment. On their way to the woods for one last training session, they are all arrested in a carefully constructed operation.
Made for Canadian TV, THE SQUAMISH FIVE is an interesting examination of left-wing extremism. The dilemma lies in deciding just how accurate a depiction of events the film actually is, depending as it does on interviews with a convicted felon whose understandable chief interest is probably to
downplay her own involvement in these activities.
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- Released: 1988
- Rating: NR
- Review: Canada, for whatever reasons, has been relatively untouched by political extremism in the last few decades. That age of innocence came to an end in 1982, when a power plant was blown up by a group calling itself Direct Action. Shortly after that, a Litton… (more)