BluRay/DVD Reviews

VIC AND FLO SAW A BEAR

By • Sep 1st, 2014 •

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After release from prison, Victoria Champagne rusticates to her incapacitated Uncle’s shack in the woods to live out her parole and await her lesbian lover. Sedentary lifestyle and bliss are only a fabled tale since storytellers have been warning us don’t go into the woods.VIC AND FLO SAW A BEAR is screenwriter/director Denis Cote’s life’s ugly portrait. There is nothing flattering. Hopes and dreams are intangible elements, and the nature of things is inevitable decrepitude and death to a bugler’s Funeral March.

Without any knowledge of Denis Cote’s previous films or personal details, this seems to be a didactic film based on a particular set of Christian beliefs. The central theme of the characters is that all are sinners and there are no saints. Eventually, everyone must suffer. Interestingly, one of the main characters, Guillaume, a Parole Officer, is more of an observer, serving as a guiding light for Vic and Flo.

Uncle Emile is a frail immobile bearded mute bound to an electric wheelchair who suffers indignities and helplessness. His niece is soon discredited by a neighbor whose son, Charlot, up until her arrival, has been Emile’s primary caretaker. Yvon displays arrogance and superiority, quickly passing judgment upon Vic while ranting about his family‚Äôs virtuous deeds.

Vic’s brother makes an appearance with a woman whom he claims is his boating partner as we only see her jewelry laden hand resting from the vehicle’s open window. He extends his hand outward forcing cash upon his downtrodden sister then makes off-color remarks about her.

Along comes a woman offering a specious outreach to Vic with smiles, lies, and gardening tips. Marie Brassard as Jackie resembles Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow in THE HANGOVER with big hair and wide round eyes. Her heart, bent on vengeance, is devoid of compassion or an iota of forgiveness. In comparison, Nicky Santoro in CASINO is painted with warm-blooded cheerfulness and schoolgirl charm. The use of the garden can be viewed as a metaphor of reaping what one sows. Psalm 92:13 ‘Those that planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.’ Jackie is immanently evil. Her deception was successful. The three fertilizers (3 being an important number) she used yielded a bountiful garden. Some Christian groups teach that deception is a tool of Satan used to make a large mass of followers worship God, but are inadvertently revering him. Therefore, getting their just due, suffering in the end.

Vic and Flo are exposed in the most unflattering light. Sans make-up and bras, both bare their souls’ fears and insecurities with heavily burdened weariness upon their faces. Vic’s life sentence and Flo’s decade old crime that has her looking over her shoulder since her prison release remain a mystery as these are never revealed. Although the leads are lesbians, this is not a pro LGBT film. In keeping with the religious themes, it is an anti-gay stance.
Both women must suffer.

The cast is an odd lot of faces. What comes to mind is a film about Canadian singing legend Leonard Cohen, where the fans featured are a truly motley looking bunch. By the looks of VIC AND FLO SAW A BEAR, you gotta ask, is Pamela Anderson really Canadian?

There is an anti-climactic buildup toward the final moments – then you get there and it snags you. The main flaw of VIC AND FLO SAW A BEAR is that through it all, we still do not know who Vic and Flo are. Vic’s emotional disconnect leaves the audience just as unhinged in the end. There is some sympathy but no real attachment to either character. The final shots are reminiscent of a famous episode of MASH. The entrapment and twist to the sometimes psychotic, ‘we will always be together,’ is most memorable.

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