Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Polytechnique Review

He wakes up in the morning and prepares for the day. He shaves. He gets dressed. He makes his bed.

She wakes up in the morning and prepares for her day. She shaves. She gets dressed. Her friend makes her change.

She's ready. She is headed to an interview for an internship. An exciting opportunity.

He's ready. He is loading his rifle. A terrifying agenda.

Based on the unfortunately true story of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre, Polytechnique is the type of film that leaves you queasy and uneasy and horrified. What word do you used to describe a positive reaction to a film like this? It feels wrong and uncomfortable to say I "enjoyed" it because while portrayed by actors on screen, those bodies were real. 26 years ago, that blood was spilled and the stains can never be completely washed away. They say time heals all wounds, but I can't imagine the loved ones of those victims can ever fully recover from such devastation.

Denis Villeneuve is one of my favorite filmmakers working today and that notion was enhanced by Polytechnique. I was wondering if the experience would feel different seeing him work with material based on fact rather than fiction, as Incendies, Prisoners and Enemy are very different beasts from the true story of a school shooting, and it did feel strange but only because I couldn't shake the knowledge that what I was watching actually happened. The craft of the film is remarkable as expected, showing us the carnage from the perspective of multiple people involved. The performances are on point and the black and white photography adds a haunting raw and real effect to the events. It's a troubling subject matter but the talent involved in portraying the events is undeniable.

What I do take from films like this is just how much we need to appreciate life. It's not morbid, it's a fact. We wake up each day and things feel normal. We shower, we brush our teeth, and we shave. We get dressed. We say goodbye to our loved ones and we assume we will see them again soon, but nothing is guaranteed.

Perhaps something is bothering you right now that seems like a big deal but when put in perspective it is actually quite small. Push it aside and cherish the right now, the beauty of existence. Take a second to think about how special it is to go home and see the people that make your world whole.

Because you just never know. Valerie woke up one day excited and nervous about an opportunity. She never thought she would come face to face with evil. A terrifying agenda.


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