Showing posts with label Fanny Mallette. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fanny Mallette. Show all posts

29 September 2012

Raindance 2012 : Familiar Ground Review

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Stephane Lafleur’s meandering, minimalist slice of Canadian life, Familiar Grounds, revels in the mundane, while simultaneously peppering its story with splashes of the remarkable.

Brother and Sister, Benoit and Maryse are living lives of utter monotony (and I do mean monotony) through a bleak Quebec winter. Living with his elderly father, Benoit despairs that everything he touches “turns to shit”. His budding romance with a single mother is scuppered by her son, his relationship with his father fractured, his inability to competently work the family Skid-doo a constant bone of contention. Following an accident at her work, Maryse begins to evaluate her life of domesticity, married to a tedious cycling enthusiast. The snow-blown boredom for these two is broken by the arrival of a used-car dealer claiming to be from the future. His words of warning to Benoit point to an impending disaster for his sister, should she go ahead with a planned roadtrip.

Lafleur’s story of disaffected siblings moves at an absolute snail’s pace, allowing the director to revel in the crushing bleakness of the unforgiving Canadian winter. The daily routine is broken only by the odd moment of sudden randomness, categorised as a serious of “accidents”. The rare moments of drama, as and when they do appear, throw into stark contrast the dullness of the daily grind. Family dinners become ruined monuments to the dead, trips to the garage grim portents of looming tragedy.

The end result is a movie which, with its excruciating study of the unremarkable, has a sort of dead-eyed charm. Glimpses of affection can be gleaned through the cold exteriors of the characters, the positively ice-age backdrop may seem half a world away, but the people are recognisably human.

The only trouble with all this is, a film which takes so much effort to revel in so much overwhelming tedium, can get a little, well tedious.

Chris Banks (@Chris_in_2D)

★★★☆☆

Rating: NA
Directed By: St├ęphane Lafleur
Cast: Francis La Haye, Fanny Mallette, Michel Daigle, Sylvain Marcel