Fake Tattoos

***1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Fake Tattoos
"In an age where punk aesthetics are sufficiently mainstream that corporate monoliths like McDonalds seek to leverage them to sell chicken wraps, its modesty, modernity, magic work to its advantage."

After a show - one preceded by birthday greetings from the liquor store clerk - Theo meets Mag. Strobe at the show. Drums and drunkenness. "I thought it was pretty good," but that comes later. The film is too.

Achieving a delicate balance between authenticity and artificiality, full of technique that gets the look with eyeliner and baby-powder, a touch of hairspray. Though these are things that punk rock, or whatever North American genre in this post-punk landscape most approximates, perhaps disdains, there's craft here. Ambition. Not just Theo's, but that of writer/director Pascal Plant. A début feature, it's far from his first rodeo, some half dozen shorts and dozens of jobs in sound departments to his credit. That skill with sound is evident, from garage drumkits to a speakerphone duet, even finding room to have things unsaid. Even the opening, conversation and more above a blank black screen, is allusive, echoing through what follows like hands in a crowd.

Copy picture

Montreal in the summer, but it's a bit of dairy synchronicity that illustrates the charm of the picture best - a yoghurt has a talismanic best before, but in that time there's room and space to fall, and hard. Just as Geneviève Dulude-De Celles apparently assisted Plant with the script, his film is built on two performances. Theo (I won't spoil an early conversation by revealing what it's short for) is grand, alternately sullen and sweet, Anthony Therrien reading perfectly that rhythm of early adulthood, pause and big paws, that hesitant casting off of childishness. Arrived perhaps to manhood early, responsibility, consequence, his is a performance that indicates talent - though he's done some shorts, his Quebecois film pedigree has already had him play a title role (2014's Corbo). The other half of the pair, real tattoos and all, is Mag (I won't spoil an early conversation by revealing what it's short for). Every note of Rose-Marie Perrault's performance is either echo or counterpoint - romance as melody.

This isn't new territory. That old boy meets girl stuff has been dressed in more world ending clothes than good quality band t-shirts and moving away, in more apocalyptic or exotic circumstances than Montreal when school is out, but rarely with as much charm or delicacy.

There's a dateless charm to it; a modernity of circumstance including YouTube views and cute animals off the Internet doesn't detract from the eternal simplicities it enjoys. It's got a gorgeous ending, one I find myself thinking about days after I saw it first. I won't say note perfect - it's a little too raw for that, just familiar enough to be perhaps too comfortable - but it's good. In an age where punk aesthetics are sufficiently mainstream that corporate monoliths like McDonalds seek to leverage them to sell chicken wraps, its modesty, modernity, magic work to its advantage. The soundtrack seems credible to me, gigs and guitars are well captured, but it's smaller details - crowds in cafes, pecking-orders and pickings-on in public parks - that are sometimes strongest. The fact that it's made decisions about the surface that reveal absences beneath, the balance of its artistry between temporary recreations of permanence, it's all weight, power, in service of something lovely.

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2018
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A young punk couple's one-night stand develops into something more meaningful.

Festivals:

EIFF 2018

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