Hot Docs 2024 ‘Lost in the Shuffle’

Hot Docs 2024 ‘Lost in the Shuffle’

After a successful career performing bigger tricks and illusions, Canadian magician Shawn Farquhar made the decision to downsize.  Now he concentrates on slight of hand, using what he calls the ‘Swiss army knife of magic’ – a deck of cards. 

It was when Farquhar started really looking at the pictures on the cards that his interest was piqued.  Fairly universal in their depiction across time and culture, he started to notice some intriguing details.  Why is the Queen of Spades facing the opposite direction to the other queens? Who is the King of Hearts, shown with a sword in his head?  

Farquhar aims to unearth the truth behind a 500 year old cold case.  Then, using the plots of other magicians who’ve influenced him, he will perform one long trick that will reveal the history of French royalty he feels is hidden in the cards.   

It’s difficult balancing the interviews of enthusiastic magicians who want to talk about their favourite tricks, with the historians who disagree with Farquhar’s theories. Farquhar’s attention to detail is meticulous, and he’s charismatic and convincing – traits honed from years of performing – yet nothing presented really has the facts to back it up.  His theory remains only that.

Lost in the Shuffle has the feel of something you’d find on the History Channel, worthy of a rainy Sunday afternoon watch.  The account of how playing cards came to be, their uses through time, and the truth behind the French royalty that may have inspired. These will change the way you look at these cards next time you play.  And the talents of the magicians featured in this documentary are undeniable.  It’s all enjoyable, even if it doesn’t always get the balance right, and even if the concluding magic trick feels more important than truly proving its inspiration.  

This post was written by
Hillary is a Toronto based writer, though her heart often lives in her former home of London, England. She has loved movies for as long as she can remember, though it was seeing Jurassic Park as a kid that really made it a passion. She has been writing about film since 2010 logging plenty of reviews and interviews since then, especially around festival season. She has previously covered the London Film Festival, TIFF (where she can often be found frantically running between venues) and most recently Sundance (from her couch). She is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. When she’s not watching films or writing about them, she can be found at her day job as a veterinarian. Critic and vet is an odd combination, but it sure is a great conversation starter at an interview or festival!
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