A look into a strange and broken mind

Concordia graduate’s metaphysical short movie will make you wonder what is going on

Kickstarter has been a massive help to independent filmmakers worldwide. The funding platform, designed to connect entrepreneurs to a potential clientele, has brought crowdfunding to its full potential. Got an original vision, massive willpower and force of conviction? Then head over to the website and try your luck. That worked out pretty well for Colin L. Racicot, a Concordia graduate who has been able to finance Beauty, his fifth short-length film.

Racicot is the director, writer, co-producer and editor of the 24-minute mystery story, which will start playing at international festivals later this month. The story is a bit too abstract or “metaphysical,” as the director put it, to describe. An emotionally distant bourgeois man starts to obsess over strange visions after visiting a secret floor at his workplace. His married and professional life are then deeply affected by this change.

Racicot cited science-fiction directors, such as Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan, as his inspiration, and visually it shows. The editing is elaborate throughout, especially in the opening credits sequence. The colour palette, composed of mostly metallics, dark blue and orange, gives the film a mysterious and increasingly claustrophobic aura. Many shots of buildings and glass structures are narratively irrelevant, but stylistically vital.

Is Beauty worth your time? Maybe. A lot of it comes down to personal taste, and while Racicot should be lauded for his qualities as an editor and stylist, his film is decidedly uneven.

It would have benefitted from a sense of place. Montrealers will recognize that Beauty is set in their city, yet it is never used as an asset. 2006’s Paris, je t’aime featured several stories with themes comparable to Beauty, and the use of the city elevated the stories immensely. Perhaps Racicot’s intention was to have his story set inside the main character’s mind, therefore excluding all possible distraction, but that is somewhat ungenerous towards the viewer.

Daniel Brochu, a voice-actor known for his role as Buster Baxter in the Arthur cartoon series, plays the main character in an intense way that is not echoed by his two co-stars. This contributes to the feeling of emotional isolation, but also lessens the viewer’s connection with the character. The dinner scene that opens the film is tonally out of place and several other scenes unnecessarily stretch the running time.

The conclusion of the film feels calculated, breaking the spontaneity that preceded it. After 20 minutes of uncertainty and mystery, it suddenly loses its special touch and becomes just another one of “that kind of movie.” Which is not to say that Beauty is entirely without interest. Like a cold metal surface, it is smooth to the touch, but ultimately distancing. There are many images of broken glass, but never any blood. That’s what Beauty ultimately lacks: a sign of life.

For more information on Beauty, visit cinesthetique.ca.

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