The Drifting States of Denis Cote

Canadian director Denis Côté has an interest in individuals with "one foot outside of society," he says, evident in the new Curling, a crisp portrait of a solitary Québécois man and his cloistered preteen daughter. Côté calls his latest work "more mature, by accident"—a description that might be surprising coming from an avowedly independent spirit whose four prior films have used improvisation and documentary technique. (These will also be screened during NWFF's retrospective, which Côté will attend.) In Curling, the magnificently schnozzed Emmanuel Bilodeau stars as the film's retiring and secretive motel and bowling-alley handyman, Jean-François. Bilodeau suggested his own 12-year-old daughter, a non-actor, for the role of Julyvonne, Jean-François' daughter. "At first, the story was for an eight-year-old girl," recalls Côté. "It was full of clichés—she was talking to her dolls." Instead, the sallow, bespectacled, pubescent Julyvonne communes with a snowbound cache of dead bodies she finds in the woods—her primary diversion apart from the occasional pop-music-listening sessions granted by her extraordinarily protective dad. The morbid serenity of the drive-by rural setting—an ambiance heightened by bleached film stock—dovetails with Côté's vision for the odd duo. "I really wanted to have these half-dead characters. They need an encounter with death in order to go toward life," he says. "[The father] is a loner among the loners. And in Quebec, it's easy to identify with a reality like that: You can hide secrets for a very long time. " NICOLAS RAPOLD

Nov. 11-17, 2011

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