Carcasses: Fact vs. Fiction, Man vs. Teenagers 

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Carcasses (2009)
Directed by Denis Côté
October 20, 24 and 25 at Anthology Film Archives, part of its Films of Denis Côté series

Jean-Paul Colmor works from home in rural Quebec. Home, though, includes an expansive yard filled with old cars, and work entails sorting through them and selling used parts to occasional customers—so long as they don’t try to bargain too much. Colmor is certainly a bizarre subject, in manner as well as livelihood, but Carcasses begins, at least, as a tender profile that emphasizes the joy he finds in work and isolation. Colmor’s eccentricities attract not just customers but also curious travelers who want an inside look at his way of life. "It’s ideal here for withdrawing from society," he tells a couple of camera-toting young visitors. "For me it's not crazy. It’s a good life."

But then a more disturbing group of visitors arrive: four teenagers with Down syndrome wielding a rifle and toting backpacks to fill with treasures. What first seems like a robbery turns into a lengthier encampment, and a more vulnerable Colmor emerges while the four intruders hang out on his property for hours. As Colmor’s idyllic isolation crumbles, so do our own established assumptions. An intimate over-the-shoulder shot of one of the intruders pointing his rifle at Colmor betrays careful staging by writer-director Côté. What first seemed like a documentary profile warps into narrative fiction. Côté offers few answers for this switch, but what results is a wonderful hybrid of a film, where documentary and fiction combine, and isolation points both to the good life and darker sides of the soul.

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Images courtesy Visit Films

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