Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fake Tattoos aka Les Faux Tatouages (Slamdance 2018) - Movie Review

The Movie: Fake Tattoos aka Les Faux Tatouages

The Director: Pascal Plante

The Cast: Anthony Therrien, Rose-Marie Perreault, Lysandre Nadeau, Brigitte Poupart, Nicole-Sylvie Lagarde, Léona Rousseau, Rémi Goulet, Lauren Mallais-DeLuca, Anyjeanne Savaria, Maxime-Olivier Potvin

The Story: Theo spends his 18th birthday alone, getting drunk at a brutal punk rock show. There, he meets Mag, a marginal teenager who invites him to spend the night at her place. A love story unfolds between them, but Theo has to move at the end of the summer in a small town, far away from a painful past.

The Review:
I love this movie. I love how authentic it is. I love how real it is. I love how freaking brilliant the actors are. I love that director Pascal Plante knew exactly how to make this movie come alive.

Please indulge me for a moment, I have to take a bit of a tangent to fully explain what I mean.

An excerpt from the director's press notes:
"In rehearsal, their exchanges were so spot-on that it motivated the film to become more radical in its relationship with time: to favor the use of long takes to let them evolve naturally in front of the camera; to let them fall in love in real-time, in front of our eyes, free to scrutinize the character we want. Since I wanted to devote a similar attention to both protagonists, it felt logical to insert them both in the frame, without separating them. This framing rule finds its root in the main themes of the film: a film about a relationship; a film about romance; a film about a couple."

I wish every director in the world would read this paragraph and take it as a golden rule of film making. One of my pet peeves is how a conversation is edited to death by endlessly cutting back and forth between characters and I've never understood why directors do it. For me, this can kill the emotion and authenticity of a moment because you're brain is constantly trying to catch up to what is on screen. Let the actors do the work.

For examples of extended takes in films, think of how Tarantino frames an entire room and just lets the camera roll or think of how Richard Linklater followed Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy down a sidewalk for 10 minutes capturing a conversation with one unedited shot in Before Sunrise.

There are so many extended takes in this movie and Mr. Plante nails it every single time.

There's a movie I watched last year during the Seattle International Film Festival called Say You Will that has some similarities to this film, one of which being the amazing collaborative performances from its lead actors. Neither film would be anywhere near as good if the respective roles had been given to different people. Anthony Therrien as Théo and Rose-Marie Perreault as Mag is a pretty magical combination all the way around. When they look at each other, you see them slowly falling in love. You can feel the awkward tension and nervous energy melting away with each touch or playful joke. They just get each other.

One of my favorite moments is when Théo decides to share an embarrassing and humiliating secret with Mag and she responds so perfectly that, in that moment, I believe is when they fell in love. That scene is so pure and real and is just one example of many that just made me authentically happy and not like, oh that joke was funny, but like those moments were so relatable and honest that seeing them just brought me joy. The script is really fantastic although the actors really take it to another level with their performances.

I also have to mention how the music used in the movie is absolutely perfect and each song nails the vibe and emotion of the moment it is a part of. Music is important to the characters, they meet after a concert and bond over their tastes in bands and singers, so it was essential to get the music in the movie and on the soundtrack just right.

The Verdict:
Fake Tattoos may end up being one of my favorite movies of 2018. It's that good. It is so well made and it just hit me at the core of why I love watching movies. If you get a chance to watch it, do not hesitate.

Fake Tattoos is an official selection of the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival.

Fake Tattoos is an official selection of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival presented by DGA. coverage of the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival. coverage of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival presented by DGA.

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