Dans les villes Catherine Martin

According to the festival write-up, this Quebecois opus "explores our inability to connect, even when our need for contact was utterly dire.” I know that I was unable to connect with its agonising dullness, though it was only the movie that was "utterly dire.” Directed by sometimes documentarian Catherine Martin, it deals with three people (the blind Robert Lepage, aged Helene Loiselle and suicidal Eve Duranceau) as they drift through life alone; there’s also parks department employee Helene Florent, who’s trying to save Montreal’s green spaces while having important encounters with all of the main characters. But though it’s that rare Canadian movie that plays exactly as it was planned, the plan is so facile and tedious as to drive you to distraction. Let your mind wander away from the "action” and you’ll miss nothing, merely some wan liberal proselytising about alienation and causes of the week and a bunch of bourgeois characters who glumly flaunt their classiness as if it were a millstone around their necks. Martin seals the deadly deal with an ultra-austere style that pans slowly across empty streets or our heroes trapped in space, but by the time you notice you’ll have been climbing the walls already. That ever-helpful fest review claims "Dans les villes runs contrary to assumptions of Montreal’s vitality, painting a portrait of an alienated populace,” but it doesn’t do anything substantial to alleviate the suffering. Instead, what you wind up with is alienation, period, with no hope for connection lest we mess up the game plan with actual pleasure. It seems more an example of isolationism than an attack on it — even the little solace it offers seems unsatisfying. It’s pretentious, arid and finally counterproductive in its little war on empty space. (TVA)