Francophone Canadian filmmaker Denis Cote presented himself with this mysterious and surreal drama set in rural Quebec in the main program of the Berlin festival. But it is already easy to conclude from the assessment that “Repertoire des villes disparues” or “Ghost Town Anthology” did not impress me too much. It will all start with a car accident in which 21-year-old Simon Dube, one of the 215 inhabitants of an isolated village, one of those places where everyone knows everything, will be killed. Everyone will start to wonder if it was really an accident or Simon decided to take his own life, and it all happens in the winter when the town is surrounded by snow, which makes it even more isolated and cut off.
After a while we will find out that this town has experienced some tragedies in the past from which it has not yet recovered, and the place is full of secrets and terrible events from the past. From the beginning, this film seems somewhat hermetic, it is difficult to understand what is really happening here and why all the villagers are so distrustful of foreigners, so problems will arise when the government sends a psychologist from the city to help family and friends of the deceased. Although the mayor of this place will repeatedly emphasize that the locals solve their problems here, it will become clear to us that the problems there are not really solved, but try to forget about them, leave them aside and pretend they do not exist. But when something like this is done for a long time, then it has to escalate, and it is clear that it will happen here as well.
And in a surreal way because already in the introductory scenes we see that some strange masked children are circling around this place. It turns out that these masked children are actually ghosts circling around this place, and the recently deceased Simon will soon start appearing in their company. We will realize then that Sainte-Irénée-les-Neiges is not Ghost Town only in a symbolic sense because people just emigrate from it, but also literally because it is a place where living inhabitants coexist with the spirits of people who died there. From the beginning to the end, everything is strange, depressing, cold, dark, and in addition to the snowy and gray ambience, a slightly old-fashioned camera contributes to that atmosphere, which along with gray tones contributes to the rawness, cruelty and coldness of this place. It is a film in which a lot remains open and the film is quite slow, full of symbolism and metaphors and which still did not live up to expectations.
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