Rooted in universal themes of grief, infidelity, the difficulties of parenthood and finding one’s self, Destiny could have easily been set in any country in the world. But director Jeremy Whittaker’s choice of setting the film’s backdrop in his birthplace of Jamaica only adds to the strength of the film.

Unlike many of the portrayals of Jamaica, which are often based on stereotypes, Whittaker proves what can happen when we opt to tell our own stories: a truthful, raw, and real depiction of livelihoods.

It is not just the contagious rhythms of roots reggae, the thumping energy of dancehall riddims or the picturesque island scenery that deems Whittaker’s debut feature length film engaging. The story, which chronicles the journey of Lisa (Karian Sang), a young woman, of Jamaican-Canadian heritage as she deals with the emotional, financial and legal aftermath of her parents’ untimely death, resonates with audiences. This is evident in the continuous eruption of laughter throughout the film. Laughter is often sparked as a sign of viewers being able to relate, of their inner voices (and in the case of this audience sometimes out loud voices) saying, “Yessss… Exactly.” Destiny effectively tackles some of the most difficult everyday experiences that more people relate to than are willing to admit.

There are equal parts romance, betrayal, secrets, lies and excitement packed into the 105 minutes that make up Destiny and not even a few minor editing hiccups stand in the way of audiences staying the course on this one.

With his debut feature film, which he admits to editing up until just two days before the world premiere at ReelWorld’s Opening Night, Whittaker entertains and impresses.

Destiny will screen at the Markham edition of the ReelWorld Film Festival, on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.

Words By. Priya Ramanujam