Saturday, May 03, 2014


To the pacing of soft snow-flakes, to the grimness of winter but the warmth of people's hopes, disappointments, tears and laughter, to the isolation of cells from other cells, humans from other humans, even as stories do link up, is set the beautifully poetic film Polytechnique, a film with little dialogues, and a film where you would least expect visual poetry and meaningful substance if you were to know that the film is basically about a 1989 shooting spree in a Canadian college.

The best thing that the film has done is to limit colour, dialogues, music, acting: rather, the film is about silence. Or, about silences. That of the young man who is forced to seek a solution to his life in killing others, who has no friends, no girlfriend, who, one feels, is in some need of unconditional love, who is intelligent but not in sync with the world and feels painfully that he's not in. That of the young woman who finds the world a less accepting place for her ambitions to enter a male-dominated field, who is in the bubble of ambitions and her passion for engineering and life. That of the young nerd who is shy, who is easily taken advantage of by a girl at the photocopier, the kind of girl with her mean cleverness that is the representative quality for all womankind for the first young man. That of places where music is bursting out, unknown of the shootings going on in other parts of the campus. That of the men who left the girls to their fate and remained transfixed in silent guilt throughout their lives. That of the surviving women and men, who have seen something out of the ordinary and have remained in its cocoon, through dreams and trauma and a too painfully acquired ability to see beyond their short-term goals.

With stunning cinematography and attention to detail, lingering over hands, pistols, snow, little trivia, in beautiful soft black & white, Denis Villeneuve's film touches the heart and, even though it seems that it is faithful to the actual occurrences, also takes liberties to make it a greater work of art rather than mere reconstruction of events. More importantly, Villeneuve gives the role of the killer to not someone who looks Arab by looks, unlike the actual killer's identity: this is a wonderful consideration, given that the film could otherwise lead to hate crime against immigrants in countries like Canada and France, where many from the Maghreb make home. The film is not about gender, violence or death thrills, something that easily such a film ends up in becoming: the film is about disjunct identities, it is about the loneliness in modern, often Western civilization, that culminates here in an act of rage.

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