Continental, un film sans fusil
Spring 2008 Edge series
Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 4:00pm
Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 7:00pm
Directed by Stéphane LaFleur
Screenplay by Stéphane LaFleur
Starring Fanny Mallette, Réal Bossé, Gilbert Sicotte, Marie-Ginette Guay, and Pauline Martin
Rated NR ·
A city bus wheezes through darkness until, with an odd sense of ceremony, it stops in a forest. A perplexed businessman descends, takes in his surroundings and walks into the woods. “Men disappear when they want to start something new,” the police tell his wife. In response, she posts “missing” signs on telephone poles as if he were a cat.
Continental, un film sans fusil is a stunning debut by director Stéphane Lafleur. Distinguished by both its stone-faced humour and its poignancy, the film is simultaneously elegant and absurd.
The disappearance of the businessman triggers unexpected, elliptical relationships among four solitary characters desperately searching for companionship. A pretty receptionist at a sparsely populated hotel leaves a phone message: “The test results were negative; it’s probably for the best.” We later realize she left the message for herself.
She begins to pursue a guest – an insurance salesman – who has recently been hired to replace the missing businessman. As they stumble toward a connection, we return to the painfully comic ambivalence of the businessman’s abandoned wife, who defiantly throws out his belongings – only to chase down the garbage truck to get them back. The absent husband makes his presence felt through wordless but loaded phone calls that hit her like silent grenades.
With incisive humour and compassion, Lafleur explores the ways our desires make us vulnerable – to a stranger claiming they saw our missing spouse, to those who won’t ask us to dance, to those who say “no.” As the film’s exquisite characters search for connection, they have to take what they can get. Somehow, it is enough.
Lafleur is in complete control of the intricate story and its singular tone. Its comedic moments wonderfully illuminate and leaven the film’s striking depth and wisdom. Sara Mishara’s exceptional cinematography provides proportion, grace and insight that dignify every frame. The cast beautifully externalizes the humanity Lafleur finds in us all, showing it to be funny, flawed and brave.