I watched this on the eve of this year’s Berlin fest, where Côté has a new film premiering. I’ve seen his Bestiaire but thought I’d check out one of his fictional features as part of the Festifest Quest. Was enjoying this on the level of a Sundancey relationship drama about interesting characters. The movie’s good at creating characters – nobody here seems to have been blandly injected for plot purposes. Longer-than-usual takes, kind of an unusual trajectory without feeling too indie-quirky. Then an ending I didn’t see coming at all. I mean, the movie lets you know it’s coming, sets it up pretty well, but… that’s just not how movies end, so you don’t believe the signs until it’s too late.

Vic+Flo ont vu un barracuda:

Vic is Pierrette Robitaille (of horny-Snow-White movie L’odyssée d’Alice Tremblay), just out of prison, staying at her disabled uncle’s house under the twice-weekly watch of sensitive parole officer Guillaume (Marc-André Grondin of Goon and C.R.A.Z.Y.). Younger Flo (Romane Bohringer of Savage Nights) moves in, is more restless than Vic, frequenting the local bar where she picks up guys. Flo, also an ex-con, is being followed by a sinister couple: Jackie and her mute enforcer, who pay increasingly threatening visits

A. Nayman:

If this ursine-monikered movie has a true spirit animal, it’s Marie Brassard’s scarily cherubic interloper Jackie, who belongs on any short list of great contemporary villainesses; when she sneers at Vic that “people like me don’t exist in real life,” it’s a taunt that at once solidifies and undermines the parable-like qualities of Cote’s storytelling.

How parole officer Guillaume first appears to Flo:

Won an award in Berlin, where it played with Closed Curtain, Side Effects, Nobody’s Daughter Haewon and big winner Child’s Pose, which I haven’t heard about since. Apparently it’s considered “slow cinema,” though I didn’t find it that slow. Also, I must’ve missed the bear (but not the trap).

Katy thought this was a boring movie where nothing happens until I told her to treat it not as a movie but as a series of motion photographs. Camera is mostly still, and half the frame is usually a wall – a favorite trick is to shoot only wall and let animals slowly wander into view. Shot at a Quebec zoo, with the occasional custodian and a parade of customers at the very end (plus a taxidermist, some sketch artists, but mostly animals and walls). Côté’s statement in the press notes declares that it can’t be a documentary since it has no subject, but he doesn’t offer what it might be instead. “Something indefinable.”

Côté:

But where is the salvation between the puppies on YouTube and a boa constrictor’s reproductive cycle narrated in eight chapters? How should one look at an animal (and find a cinematic language specific to this act)? Is it possible to shoot animals other than through the lens of entertainment or for a non-educational purpose? Neither actor nor story catalyzer, cannot an animal be contemplated and filmed simply for what it is? … The immense field of contemplative cinema offers elements of an answer.