By: Trevor Jeffery
College senior Thomas (TIFF rising star Aliocha Schneider) witnesses a young mother’s suicide after she hands him her baby and dives in front of a truck. Guy Édoin’s Ville-Marie takes two paths from this first scene tragedy: one, following Thomas as he reunites with his estranged actress mother shooting on location in Montreal, Sophie (Monica Bellucci), and the second following the hospital staff – a paramedic who shows up to the scene, Pierre (Patrick Hivon), and the nurse who receives his patients, Marie (Pascale Bussières). The separated character vignettes progress parallel to each other before ultimately intersecting at the climax, as Sophie tries to connect to Thomas while filming a movie based on her experience conceiving her son through non-consensual intercourse; Pierre avoids dealing with his PTSD, taking it out on those who love him; Marie copes with her own problematic mother-son relationship.
Guy Édoin’s Ville-Marie provides a less-than-thrilling series of plots in an engaging framework. The split-path structure – introducing characters out of one event and tying it all back together – makes the film intriguing to look back and reflect upon, but fails to capture interest during as it guards its secret.
The movie within the movie is either laughably obtuse or spot-on satirical. It’s hard to tell – both options don’t quite fit the tone of the rest of the film, but it’s likely the latter. Either way, they’re a pleasure to watch as Monica Bellucci divas it up as an overacting soap starlett has-been.
The performances are a joy all around, so even with the lack of an engaging plot, Ville-Marie’s style has enough substance and flavour to make it its own.
Ville-Marie screens at TIFF on:
Saturday, September 12 at 1:15 p.m. @ The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre
Monday, September 14 at 3:45 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Saturday, September 19 at 9:45 a.m. @ Isabel Bader
Runtime: 101 minutes
For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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