By Robert K Stephen
(TORONTO, ON) – Tight Québec Thriller. André Kosinki is a burnt out and disillusioned taxi driver in the midst of a divorce and with a dying sister. As his friend says, “I’ll let you wallow in your sadness.”
Kosinki gruff and the drab and grey streets of St Michel, in Montréal, create a hauntingly depressing backdrop. Enforced by the grey and gritty cinematography, a very unhappy and gloomy atmosphere is quickly established and maintained throughout the film.
There is very little light and joy in this movie; beatings, death, hospitals, schizophrenics, jail cells, alcoholics, dopers, fear, guilt, and hatred.
André’s life is about to change as he drops off a real estate salesman, Serge Deprato, at his house and then, shortly after, picks up a thirtyish-or-something crying women.
He picks her up as she’s leaving Deprato’s house. He drops her off at her apartment and she asks him up.
Just for a hug, which quickly turns into something else. The something else continues for a few visits with his new gal pal Marianne, who is very secretive and reveals nothing of herself.
He remarks, “You seem like a girl with secrets.”
André asks both a shady underworld connection and cop friend, of his soon-to-be ex-wife, what they can find out about Marianne.
She’s been arrested for drug dealing and prostitution, but never convicted. She has also suffered a very nasty beating in the back alleyway of a bar. No one has been arrested for the beating but the cops suspect Justin Videra, a young schizophrenic, but there is insufficient evidence for an arrest.
André reads in his morning newspaper that his fare, Serge Deprato, was savagely beaten with a shovel, and now near death, the day he dropped him off. André visits Deprato in the hospital and suspects he is responsible for beating Marianne.
Why else would Marianne possibly smash up Deprato?
In a moment of revenge he pulls Deprato’s breathing tube from the machine but reconnects it.
To save Marianne from jail, André confesses to the beating of Deprato just before Marianne makes the identical confession. Deprato is wheeled into the police station and is asked which of the two is the attacker.
He denies both, but a recreation of the crime shows Marianne picking up a shovel and approaching Deprato from behind. But, it also shows Deprato in the bar above the alleyway where, Marianne herself was beaten, watching the attack, and doing nothing.
Quite clearly Marianne sees him watching during the episode.
Although not the attacker, Deprato is vilified by Marianne for simply watching her get pulverized.
Upon regaining consciousness in the hospital, Deprato tells the police he saw who attacked him. All evidence points to Marianne, but Deprato fails to point the finger at her.
Is this Deprato’s guilt for simply watching Marianne attacked?
This is indeed an interesting ending to a film, leaving the viewer guessing not so much about who attacked Deprato, but why Deprato failed to accuse Marianne.
Excellent acting by Roy Dupuis as Kosinski and also a great sultry, sexy, and mysterious portrayal of Marianne by Christine Beaulieu.
Discrete and effective soundtrack. Cinematography matches the screenplay incredibly well.
The film shows Montréal in a gritty, rough, and depressingly working class way. Director Patrick Gazé has done a fine job.
(Ceci N’est pas Polar, 2014, Canada, 119 minutes, Director Patrick Gazé, French with English Subtitles, part of Toronto Cinefranco 2015 Festival, 18 April 2015, 8:00 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, English Canada Premiere)