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[VFF '13] Finding Cinematic Art in Mars et Avril

Movie Reviews Friday, 08 February 2013 20:27
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[VFF '13] Finding Cinematic Art in Mars et Avril

The movie Mars et Avril (Mars and April) is visually stunning in a jazz-era inspired kind of way. It blends a world straight out of Blade Runner with props that belong to the 30’s. That also includes the strange instruments that the elderly Jacob Obus (Jacques Languirand) uses to perform his music with. They look like a cross between a bagpipe, a female appendage and a saxophone. As for how it gets played, Obus has to put his entire breath into it. The artist, Arthur (Paul Ahmarani) made the contraptions that Obus uses and the woman, Avril (Caroline Dhavernas) that inspired the creation of these musical instruments, has fallen for Obus.

But when Art desires her as well, the love triangle that forms slowly drives the rest of the story than the subplot about sending astronauts to study the possibilities of colonization on the planet Mars. Some audiences may well be reaching for that bottle of carbonated caffeine to stay awake.

This movie is hardly mainstream sci-fi or action-driven. Audiences who go this film will find an experience instead. Watching this film is like walking through an art gallery, with exhibitions of neo-noir and post-modernist sets. When most of the movie was filmed in a green screen studio with minimal props, that should not be all that surprising. When Belgian comic book artist François Schuiten (known for his work, Les Cités Obscures) provided most of the digital set design, at least viewers are being treated to a graphically rich expression of cinematography than a deeply engaging story.

While the plot seems simple enough to follow, the dialogue sounds like Lord Byron had a hand in its creation. Writer/Director Martin Villeneuve wrote the script and Denis Villeneuve was consulted to fine tune their product. And for viewers relying on the film’s English subtitle to understand the story, the translation certainly keeps the Romanticism alive.

But as for what will become of the three main characters, some viewers may think they are reading Morte d’Arthur (Death of Arthur). Obus is the king of a unique musical world, Arthur is his Lancelot, providing support, and Avril is Guinevere, a woman divided. The movie does have an airy mythic quality to it, and that makes it a hard sell to becoming a commercially available product. But for cinematic art patrons, this film is worth seeking out during film festivals. 

3.5 stars out of 5

Written by  Ed Sum

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