In The Cities

In The Cities


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

All the lonely people, where do they all come from? French Quebec, actually, if this film is to be believed. If you’re looking for a something to bring down your day, this is it. No one smiles (there is one half-hearted attempt, but I’m sure it may have been a mistake). Words are also an endangered species, with the scripting cupboard distinctly bare.

A gaggle of loners live in the same area and their lives have crossed for years without them even knowing it. There’s tree doctor Fanny (Hélène Florent) – we’ll call her Little Miss Weepy for now, since that is mainly what she does and for no discernible reason, save some sketchy excuse that she gives her doctor about “crying for everyone who can’t in the world”, as though adding to grief will somehow lessen it. Her elderly neighbour Josephine (Hélène Loiselle) is lonely without even knowing it – sadly the audience are not so lucky, since we are treated to long, lingering shots of her doing such cinematically wonderful things as sitting in a chair, eating soup and watching paint dry (okay, I admit, I made the last one up). Also flitting in and out of this grim tableau is Carole (Ève Duranceau) – we’ll call her Little Miss Grim, since she is so depressed she never speaks – and blind Jean-Luc (Robert Lepage), whose character description and development are so flimsy they must surely have been written on a postage stamp.

Copy picture

The action – a word that makes things sound far more exciting than they are – centres mostly on Little Miss Weepy, as her path crosses that of the others. Jean-Luc appears merely to exist as a crude device to get the audience ponder the nature of blindness and so that lines about the contrast between towns and cities can be repeated oft and ponderously. Equally, Little Miss Grim just turns up periodically as a warning shot across the bows of any audience member who thinks the tone may be about to lighten up. It’s amazing director Catherine Martin managed to even get this commissioned, since it is so unremittingly grim it is hard to believe anyone would want to fall into what is essentially a large vat of self-pity.

Because the scripting is so slight, there is little reason given for the characters’ predicament or actions, an oversight that succeeds in thoroughly alienating the audience. Occasionally Martin throws an interesting shot or two into the but these are far outweighed by the general air of tedium and lingering shots of things such as people walking or sitting doing nothing in particular. Warning: Do not take any sharp objects into the cinema with you, after an hour or so of this, they may start looking like a good means of escape.

Reviewed on: 17 Aug 2007
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Misery loves company in Quebec.

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Chris ****

Director: Catherine Martin

Writer: Catherine Martin

Starring: Hélène Florent, Robert Lepage, Ève Duranceau, Hélène Loiselle, Markita Boies, Pierre Collin, Béatrice Picard

Year: 2006

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: Canada


EIFF 2007

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