sat 30/05/2020

Blu-Ray: Curling | reviews, news & interviews

Blu-Ray: Curling

Blu-Ray: Curling

Chilly Québécois meditation on loneliness and isolation

Emmanuel Bilodeau

Curling could be an enigmatic contemporary noir, but for the fact that it was made in the depths of winter in rural Quebec.

Curling could be an enigmatic contemporary noir, but for the fact that it was made in the depths of winter in rural Quebec. Shades of brilliant white and murky grey predominate, as witnessed in an early sequence where Jean-François and his 12-year old daughter Julyvonne trudge home from an optician’s appointment along a windswept snowy road. Spurning the offer of a lift from a police officer, Jean-François’s reluctance to engage with the outside world is established within minutes. A craggy, taciturn loner holding down a couple of menial jobs, he’s an over-protective single parent unwilling to let Julyvonne attend school; only comments from his boss, lecherous bowling alley owner Kennedy (Roc Lafortune) prompt him to buy some text books to fill in the gaps in her education. Why Julyvonne’s mother is in prison isn’t revealed, one of many things left unexplained in Denis Côté’s 2010 film. Jean-François (Emmanuel Bilodeau) makes for a charismatic antihero, the bond between him and Julyvonne made the more affecting in that she’s played by his real-life daughter Philomène.

Côté makes the mundane mesmerising: static shots of tired domestic interiors or pallid landscapes have a muted beauty, and Curling’s stately pace doesn’t prevent it becoming compelling. Both leads have secrets: Jean-François encountering and dealing with the victim of a road accident in unorthodox fashion, Julyvonne making a horrifying discovery during a solitary walk. A bloodied motel bathroom recalls Psycho. The expected grisly reveal never comes, Côté instead making us celebrate the pair’s small successes. Julyvonne discovers a taste for bowling, and Jean-François seemingly enjoys a successful liaison with a woman he meets in a motel café. There’s black humour too; poor Julyvonne, left to fend for herself for a few days, resorts to opening a jar of pasta sauce with a hammer. Kennedy’s attempts at flirting with the girl he’s hired to work at his bowling alley are excruciating, and we get an unexpectedly gripping explanation of the sport of curling halfway through. Côté dares us to find particular scenes amusing, the film’s subtly upbeat conclusion suggesting that we were right to smile, despite several key plot points never being resolved.

Curling packshotA recent bonus interview with a cheery, smiling Côté is essential viewing, and should prompt a second viewing. “I’m touched by people who are afraid of the world,” he reveals, later explaining that Curling's bleached colours were achieved with actual chemicals, the 35mm film stock subjected to a 'bleach bypass'. We also get a 2015’s May We Sleep Soundly, a beguiling, sinister short where an unseen intruder with a hand-held camera explores a series of houses, the occupants, pets excepted, fast asleep.

@GrahamRickson

 

Côté makes the mundane mesmerising

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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