Québécois film critic Denis Côté has become a regular festival fixture with his cerebral, disquieting looks at human nature that freely mix and meld tropes from both documentary and fiction. For Bestiaire, his fifth feature, Mr. Côté works through a wholly documentary setup, as he takes a lengthy, contemplative look at the routines of a zoological park, alternating between the beasts in captivity, the park workers and a taxidermist at work.

     Contemplative Bestiaire may be, but it isn't necessarily peaceable: the early section, focussing on the animals in their concrete pens during winter time, installs a sense of anguish and apocalypse that the evolution of the film, through to the taxidermist's work preparing a duck for stuffing, and then the animals' springtime release as visitors start arriving in their own closed vehicles, suggests any number of thoughtful comparisons, from Noah's Ark to man's inhumanity to animal. Essentially a superb work of montage that asks who the beasts are in a shy, sly, abstract manner (the viewer is himself a "visitor" to this zoo), Bestiaire continues Mr. Côté's run of intriguing meta-filmic works, and is one of his most interesting and thought-provoking works.

Director/writer, Denis Côté; cinematography, Vincent Biron (color); editor, Nicolas Roy; sound, Frédéric Cloutier; producers, Mr. Côté, Sylvain Corbeil (Metafilms and Nihilproductions in collaboration with Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains), Canada/France, 2012, 72 minutes. 
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012, Castello Lopes Londres 2 (Lisbon), April 28th 2012. 


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