For seven long years he has been planning an attack against young women who want to become engineers, entering a world that in his mind is reserved only for men. Just when he is heading toward the building of the Montreal Polytechnique with a loaded gun, student Valérie is being interviewed for an internship; to succeed she must keep quiet about her plans to start a family. When the killer reaches the classroom, the professor is lecturing on entropy, explaining that every system subject to pressure from its external environment undergoes a conversion that results in imbalance and a transfer of energy. The violence that follows is a perfect illustration of this definition. While Valérie is going through hell, her schoolmate Jean-François misses his chance to become a hero. This black-and-white film, based on a real event and shot in the actual places where the massacre took place in December 1989, has a theme similar to Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, but diverges from it in many ways. Villeneuve does not explore what brought the unnamed killer to such misogyny but, like a documentarist, he first records his deeds and then asks the question we are used to hearing in connection with war and holocaust: how can the survivors continue their lives? In this unspectacular but very impressive film, in which Pablo Picasso’s Guernica also plays a symbolic role, people hardly communicate, the cheerless school corridors induce feelings of alienation, and the viewer, watching the snow falling endlessly, almost forgets that the setting is a big city. The film won nine Genie Awards. –KVIFF
Denis Villeneuve (born October 3, 1967 in Gentilly, Quebec) is a Quebecois film director and writer. He is a two-time winner of the Genie Award for Best Director, for Maelström in 2001 and Polytechnique in 2010.
I was in CEGEP studying for my own exams when news of the massacre came through friends and family. I don't remember hysteria, only communal shock and grief. It's a solemn, quiet memory much like the tone of Villeneuve's contemplative film. Many critics decried the labeling of that crime solely as an act of misogyny. The incident scarred men and women alike, taking lives long after the case was closed. Haunting.
Framed in a close shot, college students go about their business around a Xerox machine when a spray of bullets suddenly rips into the image
Fairly quiet a tableau, but a discernible human focus prevents it from also being seen as calculated, intimately delving into the minds and under the skin of its players – even that of the apparent… read review
A minimalist “film” about the Montreal Massacre of 1989. As much as I appreciate any artist who discusses crucial and controversial events via his discipline, I am not sure what the reason for making… read review