Monday, August 23, 2010

Polytechnique - English Language Review

(Canada, 2009)

Director: Denis Villeneuve 
Starring: Maxim Gaudette, Karine Vanasse, Sébastien Huberdeau

Rating: 3.5/5
The film is inspired by the tragedy that happened on December 6, 1989 at the Polytechnic School of Montreal, when a student entered the university with a gun and killed several of his colleagues (mostly young women). The film focuses on the criminal (who remains unnamed throughout the picture) and two fictional characters: Valérie, a very ambitious student and Jean-François, her less brilliant, but equally studious friend. 

"Polytechnique" was shot twice with the same actors, first in French, then in English. However, there isn't much dialogue in the movie, so I suspect I didn't miss anything by only watching the English version. The story is mostly told through some voice-over in the begging and then through the pretty impressive, elegant black-and-white cinematography (apparently chosen to show respect for the victims and avoid blood on the screen - much like how Hitchcock feared "Psycho" would be too scary if the blood would be red in the shower scene).

For most of its running time, the film keeps us in suspense and focused. But just as we enter the last half hour, in the middle of the massacre,the filmmaker decide to jump several days in the future to tell the story of Jean-François and then return to December 6 in a flashback, the again in the future, when we see what happens to Valérie, and the ending oscillates between past and present, dragging on for a little while, until the movie finally ends its short (not more than 75-minute) runtime.

Although I found some of the decisions the filmmakers took in the end uninspired and even though "Politechnique" is not to the Montreal massacre what "Elephant" is to Columbine, for the most of it, this is an interesting film, sometimes shocking and generally done in good taste.

No comments: