Dennis Côté’s Curling
Friday, April 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Introduced By Dominque Dugas, Programming Director from Les Rendez-vous du cinéma Québécois.
It’s wintertime in a small village in a remote corner of Quebec. A father devotes himself, exclusively and awkwardly, to watching over his 12 year old daughter, Julyvonne. The cloistered closeness and delicate balance of their peculiar relationship are challenged by a series of unanticipated events. With Curling, Côté offers another instalment of his unique brand of cinema, focusing on issues of intimacy and marginality. His characters are emotionally and physically incapable of coping with the stifling environment in which the director places them. This signature device, simultaneously intriguing and perplexing, has made Côté one of Quebec’s most intriguing filmmakers. Curling was voted one of Canada’s Top Ten Films of the year by the Toronto International Film Festival.
From Uptown Magazine April 13, 2011
A landscape of frozen secrets
Denis Cote’s acclaimed drama Curling offers a brooding tale of rural Quebec Gothic
When you see this film, you realize how much there is to be said for mystery in cinema.
Many things are explained in Denis Cote’s Curling, voted one of Canada’s Top 10 films of the year at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Yet it’s the remaining enigmas that lend the film its quietly charged, sometimes disconcerting fascination.
The central question mark concerns the terrible discovery a girl named Julyvonne (Philomene Bilodeau) makes in the woods behind her and her father’s rural Quebec home. It’s a discovery no child should make, and it sends her fleeing back into the house and into her bed — winter clothes and all.
But Julyvonne does not tell her father, Jean-Francois (Emmanuel Bilodeau). Her recalcitrance seems unmotivated by fear; she repeatedly returns to the woods and the secret frozen there. Why, exactly, we can only guess. (I for one think Julyvonne cherishes her secret knowledge, terrible as it is, because it belongs to her and her alone. It’s like a precious treasure within the obsessively controlled restrictions imposed by the overbearing Jean-Francois.)
Of course, Jean-Francois has a dark secret himself. The film thus cultivates a sense of impending doom: things, we understand, will soon take either a better or (more likely) a very, very bad turn for these characters.
As the film opens, we learn Julyvonne doesn’t attend school. A third party who asks why is told it’s not their business. In fact, Julyvonne has never attended school. She has no friends, and it’s like the household was put into stasis when she was born: when Jean-Francois allows some music to be put on, it’s Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now, which is coincidentally about as old as Julyvonne seems.
Some perspective is offered by our introduction to her mother. But more to the point is the observation of Jean-Francois’s boss, who says he’s the kind of fool who’d jump into a lake to escape the rain. We see that he is quietly drowning himself and dragging his daughter down with him.
Curling has been strikingly, even beautifully photographed by Josee Deschaies, who uses single sources to create deep-shadowed chiaroscuro in interior scenes, and diffused natural light to soften the stark winter milieu in others. The effect is a literal depth and a sense of density — both visually and dramatically.
Some critics have found this film impenetrable, and some viewers may likewise be frustrated by its opaqueness. But consider this — doesn’t it give you and your date more to talk about over coffee afterwards?
- Kenton Smith