Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Sunday, October 4, 2015

“Deadly animation”/ The Imposter

Apr. 7 “Deadly animation”: I cut out this movie review by Liam Lacey from the Globe and Mail on Nov. 30, 2012.
The animated French film The Suicide Shop is, obviously, not a movie invented in a studio marketing department with a target audience in mind. This alternately macabre and twee comedy from veteran French director Patrice Leconte (The Widow of St. Pierre, Monsieur Hire, Ridicule), about a family business catering to the suicidal, is too grisly for kids, or at least their ticket-buying parents. At the same time, the bouncy musical numbers with their contorted rhymes are unlikely to be embraced by any self-respecting Goth teen.

The film is adapted from a 2006 black comic novel by Jean Teulé, who also co-wrote the screenplay. In a grey and brown Paris of oppressive concrete towers and rain-soaked streets, everyone, even the pigeons, is miserable. The one paradoxical ray of hope is a quaint little old-fashioned back-alley boutique known as The Suicide Shop, where the Tuvache family are delighted to help customers end their suffering.

The shop sells poisons, nooses, rusty razor blades, seppuku swords and other life-taking paraphernalia, aimed at every budget. For a homeless customer, it’s a simple plastic bag and a piece of tape, compliments of the house.

The family member’s names evoke famous historical or celebrity suicides: Dad is Mishima (Bernard Alane); Mom, Lucrèce (Isabelle Spade), their morose teenaged kids, Vincent (Laurent Gendron) and Matilyn (Isabelle Giami). Then, a third child, Alan (Kacey Mottet Klein), is produced and he’s a happy-go-lucky misfit.

Mishima tries to do all the wrong things – including teaching his son how to smoke – but can’t stop Alan from being a life-affirming delight to all who meet him. Alan’s influence soon starts to corrupt other members of his family. On Marilyn’s birthday, as she stares at her coffin-shaped cake, Alan presents her with a pretty scarf. Later, he and his friends ogle her as she dances naked at her window.

Leconte’s interest here is more about consumer satire than existential gloom, and, in a deviation from the book, he pulls out a disjointed upbeat ending for the film. Otherwise, The Suicide Shop’s interest is its visual style (I saw the 2-D version, though it runs in 3-D in theatres), with designers Florian Thouret and Régis Vidal creating antique charcoal and watercolour urban backdrops, beautifully detailed interiors and insect-like characters, elongated or squat. In a tribute to animation tradition, from Cinderella to Babe, there’s a chorus of red-eyed rodents to sing about the folly of human misery, and provide sardonic encouragement: Life, the less worse alternative.

The Imposter: I cut out this movie review by Chris Knight in the National Post on Oct. 12, 2012.  I have written about this movie before here on my blog:
Here’s the whole National Post review:

A boy with no future meets a man with no past in this bizarre documentary that falls deep into the hole of truth being stranger than fiction.

Director Bart Layton opens the story with the disappearance of 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay from his hometown of San Antonio, Tex., in 1994. Three years later, his family receives a call from Spain saying that Nicholas has been found.

It’s the perfect happy ending, except for the fact that it’s completely false. “Nicholas” was in fact Frédéric Bourdin, a 23-year-old French-Algerian drifter who had pretended to be a lost child.

Once in the Spanish welfare system, he contacted U.S. police, pretending to be a fellow cop and describing his own features. When he got a match in Nicholas, he ran with it.

“I wasn’t pretending any more to have another identity,” says Bourdin, who comes across as supremely creepy in current interviews. “I stole one.”

Although he dyed his hair and copied Nicholas’s tattoos, Bourdin couldn’t change the colour of his eyes or his French accent. Amazingly, neither of these details mattered to his sister when she went to collect him, or to his mother at home.

Even Bourdin couldn’t believe what was happening. “It’s like I woke up in a place where the lie is even bigger than what I did.”
Gamely, he continued his part in the deception, even while less credulous federal officers and a dogged private detective started tailing him, looking for details that could reveal his true identity.

The documentary relies too heavily (and sometimes comically) on recreations and re-enactments. When Bourdin is calling police stations in the United States, for instance, Layton cuts to clips of old TV shows, with fictional cops on the phone.

But the overall mood is somber, even terrifying. “What if he shows up?” Bourdin remembers thinking about the real Nicholas. “What if he opens the door and says, ‘Hey, I’m back’?”

The film ends on an even more outrageous note, with a lot of questions that aren’t likely to be answered any time soon. They do present a compelling theory, however, as to why a family would take in a stranger and treat him as their own. What it says about the extremes of human nature is chilling.




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