It has been seven years since Mona (Agam Darshi), a failed Canadian writer from Punjabi in her mid-30s, returned to her childhood home to care for her father (Marvin Ishmael), who has cancer. When his health deteriorates and he falls into a coma, Mona begins to unravel as she realizes that his death would take away her only meaningful purpose in life.
Written and directed by Darshi, “Donkeyhead” is kind of a coming-of-age movie, only the heroine is an extremely late bloomer. When her talented siblings – Rup (Huse Madhavji), Sandy (Sandy Sidhu), and Parm (Stephen Lobo), Mona’s twin brother – return home, the purposelessness of Mona’s existence becomes apparent.
“Donkeyhead” attempts to build a complex family dynamic with humor and an eye for Sikh immigrant culture – a curious aunt transforms Mona’s house into a reception area for relatives to pay their respects to the dying patriarch.
But Darshi’s script lacks flair and often resorts to cringing clichés, such as when Mona drags her stuffy siblings to a local bar and starts a sing-along with the Canadian national anthem. Secrets are exposed as tensions mount over Father’s will and the fate of the family home, and – predictably – Mona’s siblings aren’t as put together as they seem.
Mona, the black sheep of the family who outwardly opposes the Sikh tradition, also has an affair with a married man, Brent (Kim Coates), who – like her father – is yet another obviously weak source of comfort who is destined to slip away. Despite her minor uprisings, Mona remains a frustratingly opaque character; a stereotypical troubled woman whose eventual awakening deserves at most a shrug.
Not judged. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. Watch on Netflix.