Now Playing In Mexico: Denis Côté's VIC + FLO SAW A BEAR
This one is for those looking for the odd, arthouse cinema.
While it premiered way back in early 2013, at the Berlinale, Denis Côté's Vic + Flow Saw a Bear finally opened in Mexico City last weekend. Our own European editor, Brian Clark, watched it in Berlin and wrote a review, leaving clear that the film is, to begin with, quite strange indeed ("as the title suggests") and stays far away from a conventional narrative.The film opens with a static shot of a boy in a scout uniform playing an awful number on the trumpet to Vic (short for Victoria). When he finishes, he demands money for the performance, which leads to a hilarious lecture from Vic about what does and doesn't merit payment. With its washed-out colors and matter-of-fact dialogue delivery, this scene recalls the deadpan, but still humane comedy stylings of Swedish director Roy Andersson (Songs from the Second Floor, You, the Living). But don't get comfortable! We're then treated to a lively opening credits sequence with jungle drums and huge red text, which suggests a different beast altogether. And then, suddenly, we're with Vic at a cabin in the country, which is more conducive to sparse dialogue and pensive stares than either of the first two scenes. Vic, as it turns out, has just been released early from a life-sentence in prison, and has decided to retreat to her family's old cabin deep in the wilderness of Canada. Her younger, lesbian lover Flo turns up a few days later, and the two attempt to adjust, not only to each other, but also to life in the country.
While Vic + Flow Saw a Bear has some elements that are "quite interesting", it also suffers from its own oddity. For Clark, "director Denis Côté is tossing around genres, moods, tones and even different versions of reality. While certain moments are a pleasure to behold on their own, Côté lacks the balance and cohesion to really make all of his disparate ideas connect, settling instead for jarring tonal and stylistic shifts that aren't nearly as radical as Côté seems to think they are."
However, and as Clark himself pointed out in his review, other respected critics found this Canadian film very much worthy, "including Keyframe's David Hudson, who I hold in very high esteem."
It is safe to say Vic + Flow Saw a Bear is ready to provoke all kinds of reactions, and if you're based in Mexico City, two cinemas are offering it right now: Cineteca Nacional and Cine Tonalá. The film will open at another one (Cinemanía) next Thursday, September 11.
It's also worth noting that Côté himself is in Mexico and will personally present the screening of Friday, September 19 at Cine Tonalá.
Vic + Flow Saw a Bear is distributed in Mexico by Interior 13.
Brian Clark contributed to this story.