Familiar Grounds Stéphane Lafleur

Familiar Grounds Stéphane Lafleur
Something that stands out about Stéphane Lafleur's deliberately paced, exceedingly subtle comedy, Familiar Grounds, is the contrasting and eerie, Koyaanisqatsi-esque soundtrack that pops up intermittently while characters eat lunch, use metal detectors or do the dishes. It's an oddly appropriate score, even though the Godfrey Reggio image-based documentary was an environmentalist plea, while this Quebecois film is a quiet, often stationary look at human behaviour and the quotidian in relation to their small town, minimalist environment. Divided into multiple segments titled "Accident #1," "Accident #2" and so on, the dry daily grinds of siblings Maryse (Fanny Mallette) and Benoit (Francis La Haye) are documented with minimal stylization, yet an oddly satirical eye. Maryse quietly watches her husband ride the Tour de France from within their home, when not working at a factory where the first accident – the severing of an arm – shakes up her life, leading her to spend her days fascinated by the process of sewing an arm back on, measuring coolers for arm room at the local hardware store. Benoit lives with his parents, practicing guitar in his bedroom, when not snowmobiling or cooking glass-filled spaghetti for a local crossing guard and her son (a potential second accident). They live bland existences filled with human idiosyncrasies and the tendency for bored people to become obsessed with ridiculous, silly hobbies and notions. This is why the introduction of a man from the future, implying a forthcoming death, changes the picture, forcing the siblings to revisit their identities and past. Even though very little happens, there is something consistently and strangely compelling about Lafleur's sophomore effort. It has to do, in part, with his understanding and perspective of the simple life, as well as his slyly comic framing and intriguing directorial style, which speaks of great things to come. Included with the Blu-Ray are French-only supplements on the Man of the Future and the guitar playing. They're very brief and unremarkable. (eOne)