We follow several other characters on their journey to salvation, or hell, such as Louise (Jocelyne Zucco) and Richard (Normand Carrière), an aging couple with a penchant for snowshoeing. Then there’s Pierre (Hubert Proulx) and Camille (Rachel Graton), a couple arguing over a dilapidated house he wants to purchase, despite the mayor warning him of its “bad energy.” The awkward Adèle (Larissa Corriveau) talks too much at parties, is haunted by mysterious intruders and, according to the film’s surreal finale, may just be Irénée-les-Neiges’ soul, struggling to stay intact. Oh, did I mention the children that wear skeletal masks, running wild through the town?
“…a meditative, leisurely pace that’s only intermittently punctured by small embellishments…”
“Since the death of your brother,” Louise tells Jimmy, “the world’s turned upside down.” Côté does a remarkable job painting a vivid yet phantasmagoric portrait of the town’s disparate citizens, united by grief and a sense of impending doom. The filmmaker dials back on the “punk-experimental” nature of some of his earlier work, favoring a meditative, leisurely pace that’s only intermittently punctured by small embellishments – a bit of grainy 16mm camerawork here, a surreal visual touch there. Bringing to mind Fabrice Gobert’s series The Returned, his film is an allegorical meditation on grief, on how tragedy affects a dissipating community. Like in the series, it features ghosts of loved ones passively observing the mental and physical deterioration of a once-flourishing place that they used to inhabit.
Ghost Town Anthology‘s heavy subject matter is significantly complemented by its grey, monochrome imagery, courtesy of cinematographer François Messier-Rheault. He and Côté write an ode to human resilience; they compose a soliloquy about lost identities; they paint a portrait of people seeking meaning, guidance, warmth. The result is a soulful cinematic treatise on the gradual, painful loss of a city’s soul.
"…a soliloquy about lost identities...a portrait of people seeking meaning, guidance..."