It’s going on seven years since Mona (Agam Darshi), a failed Punjabi Canadian writer in her mid-30s, moved back to her childhood home to care for her father (Marvin Ishmael), who has cancer. When his health deteriorates and he lapses into a coma, Mona begins to unravel as she realizes his death would remove her only meaningful purpose in life.

Written and directed by Darshi, “Donkeyhead” is a kind of coming-of-age film, only its heroine is an extremely late bloomer. When her accomplished siblings — Rup (Huse Madhavji), Sandy (Sandy Sidhu), and Parm (Stephen Lobo), Mona’s twin brother — come home, the aimlessness of Mona’s existence is thrown into sharp relief.

“Donkeyhead” attempts to build out complex family dynamics with humor and an eye toward Sikh immigrant culture — a nosy aunt transforms Mona’s home into a reception space for relatives to pay their respects to the dying patriarch.

But Darshi’s script lacks flair, and often resorts to cringe-inducing clichés, as when Mona whisks her stuffy siblings away to a local bar and initiates a singalong to the Canadian national anthem. Secrets emerge as tensions come to a head over dad’s will and the fate of the family home, and — predictably — Mona’s siblings aren’t as put together as they seem.

The black sheep of the family who outwardly resists Sikh tradition, Mona is also in an affair with a married man, Brent (Kim Coates), who — like her father — is yet another obviously tenuous source of comfort destined to slip away. Despite her minor rebellions, Mona remains a frustratingly opaque character; a stereotypically troubled woman whose eventual awakening merits a shrug at most.

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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By MD Abdullah

Abdullah is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson. She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.

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