Wednesday, March 31, 2010


(Jean Beaudin, 1984)
When the girls come into the Magdalen Island cave for the marshmallow roast at sunset, it's official - this is a beautiful film. The visual flow may not match the compositions, but Pierre Mignot's cinematography is all remote, windswept otherworldliness, and eventually his rich visions uplift this narrative. In portraying the love between an autistic kid and his exuberant teenage brother, the movie has a few uphill battles to fight - its wide-shot nonverbalism is sometimes too obvious cover for the bad English dubbing, and the austerity can get as mannered as the 'fun'. And for sure the disappearance of the teenaged love interest, just as she's starting to engage with the narrative, is abrupt and disorienting and doesn't resolve. But what happens from there is so affecting and so right that I'm prepared to accept that turn of events as an imperfect expression of a theme rather than a structural defect. Because nothing resolves here - every character withdraws further and further into themselves, nobody has a solution to the real-world practical crises that Mario's autism creates, the sense of tragedy is pervasive. But the film portrays love and fantasy as valid escapes from tragedy and irresolution, and because the imagery is so alive the effect isn't sentimental, it's heroic. And standing above all this is the climactic scene with that coyote doll, a visionary gesture that totally got me in the heart - I haven't seen anything like it since, of all things, the last shot of "Stalker".

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