TIFF Review: 'The End of Pinky'

The End of Pinky
(Canada, 8 min.)
Written and directed by Claire Blanchet
Starring: Heather O’Neill, Marc-André Grondin
Programme: Short Cuts Canada Programme 5 (World Premiere)
Photo taken from the production, courtesy of the NFB.
Montreal is a magical city. Where else can someone step out of a sex shop and then saunter into the church next door and pray for forgiveness? Walk too far down the wild side of Ste. Catherine’s Street, though, and you’ll stumble into a completely different world. Filmmaker Claire Blanchet imagines an enchantingly gritty rendering of the city in The End of Pinky and wraps it in a smoky, magnetic glow. Inviting the audience on a walking tour of the city’s red light district, the Pinky is a grim, yet surprisingly enchanting revenge tale. The End of Pink is a noir told with the cadence of a bedtime tale.

The man seeking the end of Pinky is a charming punk named Johnny (voiced by Marc-André Grondin), who survives a rough upbringing only to doll out violence when he becomes a man. His mission is to settle the hash of his partner, and best friend, Pinky, who spilled the beans on Johnny’s slick operation when he was popped by the fuzz. Caught between the friends is a fragile dame named Mia, another of the wounded ghosts floating around Blanchet’s dreamlike city that feels like somewhere in between heaven and hell. Purgatory, perhaps, if the Johnny's turf doesn’t fall under Satan’s jurisdiction.

The End of Pinky unfolds playfully, yet matter-of-factly in a mix of hand-drawn pencil and pastel animation, rendered in stereoscopic 3D, that is both dark and fanciful. The visuals get an extra sense of whimsy thanks to the excellent score by Geneviève Levasseur, which, like the drawings, is equal parts darkness and child-friendly cheer. This lullaby for little criminals is told in voiceover by Montréal author Heather O’Neill, who penned the short story on which Pinky is based. O’Neill tells the tale in droll nonchalant narration. Murder, brothels, and prison are all just stuff of the city’s streets and The End of Pinky finds just the right dime-store metaphors, the words of pulp fiction, to make all this sordid behaviour sound beautifully commonplace. O'Neill's voice, as it does in print, has a unique way of subverting things that are common and familiar.

The End of Pinky, with its playful syntax and imaginatively sedated worldview, is a good-humoured fable with a romantic eye for society’s outcasts. Blanchet’s classically styled animation seems like an appropriately nostalgic choice for this tale. The End of Pinky envisions Montreal through the warm haze of drunk goggles. It looks far better than if one looked at the city through a pair of rose-coloured glasses.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of ★★★★★)

The End of Pinky screens in Short Cuts Canada Programme 5:
-Wednesday, Sept. 11, 9:15 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
-Thursday, Sept. 12, 2:30 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Some of the shorts will also be playing online 24 hours after their public screening, so please check http://www.youtube.com/tiff and see if Gloria Victoria is one them!

Also reviewed from Short Cuts Canada Programme 5: Impromptu.

Please visit www.tiff.net for more info on this year's festival.