(Canada, 92 min.)
Written and directed by Denis Côté.
Starring: Emmanuel Bilodeau, Philomène Bilodeau, Roc LaFortune, Sophie Desmarais.
Denis Côté blows a wad of Telefilm dollars with Curling, this bizarre and poorly lit film from Quebec. Curling was among the Top Ten films named by TIFF earlier this year, but unfortunately, I can’t share the enthusiasm despite my shameless keenness to promote our National product. To recommend Curling requires creative writing skills that far exceed my ineptitude for fiction.
In a similar vein of Dogtooth, Curling tells of an overly protective father (Emmanuel Bilodeau) who keeps his daughter, Julyvonne (Philomène Bilodeau), sequestered from the rest of the world. The father, nicknamed Moustache, is not nearly as sadistic as the freaky parents in Dogtooth are and that partly contributes to the lack of payoff in the film. Unlike Dogtooth, Curling just seems weird for the sake of being weird.
There’s little else to say about Curling in terms of plot, other than it involves some quirky episodes in which Julyvonne stumbles upon a slew of frozen corpses in the backwoods by her house. Actually, that scene is one of many that positions Curling as a French-Canadian attempt at Fargo. Nevertheless, Julyvonne is a bit simple and instead of seeking help, she merely makes snow angels amongst the bodies and frequently visits them while her dad is elsewhere. For such a protective parent, Moustache is rarely with his daughter, be he working, curling, disposing of road kill, or fraternizing with a hooker from rural Quebec. There is also a scene in which Julyvonne encounters a tiger, which seems useless other than to provide some nice contrasts between the orange fur and the white snow.
Like the tiger, Curling features a roster of oddities strung together without apparent rhyme or reason. For example, one of Moustache’s co-workers, Isabelle (Sophie Desmarais), is a sickly looking Goth who changes her hair colour with each appearance. The film also opens with a pointless long-take – roughly two or three minutes – in which a Côté frames a conversation between Moustache, Julyvonne, and a police officer against a panoramic view of Quebec’s blustery cold highways. “Brrr!” the shot seems to say, in hopes of convincing the foreign market that, yes, Quebec and Canada are indeed snowy and cold. Curling is also dull, stupid, and pretentious, so let us once again thank the booming success of Incendies on the international market.
Curling plays at The Bytowne in Ottawa until Thursday, April 28.