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samedi 20 août 2011

"Absurd situations and characters", Windsor film festival, April 5, 2007

Twelve years after his star has faded, Jean-Marc Thomas (Laurent Lucas) is a destitute, former pro soccer player who, when he's not engaged in his new career of petty crime, spends most of his time walking the snowy streets of Montreal with his ball in tow. Heartbroken over the death of his lost love and haunted by the regret of never having told her his true feelings, Jean-Marc has moved from his native France to her hometown in an effort to recapture some of her presence.

Living an unglamorous life in an empty house, Jean-Marc, who no longer looks like a star athlete, has entered the criminal underworld in order to pay the bills. But his life continues to spiral downward to the point where he accepts a job as a hit man, even though he's never used a gun.

Sur la trace d'Igor Rizzi steers clear of the predictable and continually surprises us with absurd situations and characters, such as an unusually helpful homeless man who can often be found in the back seat of Jean-Marc's jalopy. Jean-Marc and his inept partner, Michel (Pierre-Luc Brillant), are so adept at bungling their burglary jobs that they get scared away from one score by a pack of crying children. One day, when answering the door to his house, Jean-Marc finds an injured woman lying at his doorstep. Noticing a man watching suspiciously from the other side of the street, he goes so far as to chase after him, not thinking of the potential consequences that these actions might unleash.

Noël Mitrani's astonishingly assured, deadpan comic debut features a tentative mood and alienated characters reminiscent of the simple, unadorned work of independent rebel filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki. The film's spare, lean style, minimal dialogue and underplayed performances signal a major talent worth watching.

By Stacey Donen

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