Small Town Living: Our Review of ‘Ghost Town Anthology’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 17, 2019
Small Town Living: Our Review of ‘Ghost Town Anthology’

Small town living…can be harder than it looks…

Now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the latest from French Canadian auteur Denis Cote; Ghost Town Anthology is not only a haunting mediation on small town living but a real salient look at the nature of grief and how we all process it individually.

In Irenee-Les-Neiges, a small and isolated town with a population of 215 people, Simon Dube dies in a car accident.   With the townspeople stunned, people are reluctant to discuss the circumstances around the tragedy.  From that point on for the Dube Family, Mayor Smallwood and a handful of others, time seems to lose all meaning and days seemingly stretch on without end.  Meanwhile, there’s something descending on this small town as the residents are seemingly in a fog and mysterious strangers are appearing all over town.  Who are they?  More importantly; what do they want?

This latest offering from Denis Cote just might be his most universally accessible as Ghost Town Anthology speaks to the universally held perceptions of how we’re supposed to grieve when faced with a loss but also in the ingrained fear of the outside world when all you know is small town living.

It’s a weird thing to marry the mundane with the ethereal, but Denis Cote finds a fascinating balance between the two that makes it all work exceptionally well.  Shot in 16mm and breaking away from a more traditional format, Cote makes us feel like we are floating in a slice of time that has no form and having lived in and driven through several small towns like Irenee-Les-Neiges in Quebec, Cote has captured that essence in a bottle and thrown it up on screen in a way that is simply hard to believe because at first we feel like it’s just a collective sense of grief, but it’s actually so very much more.

He doesn’t do anything with a sense of condemnation or superiority but he gazes in on the lives of these characters that all in their own ways are incredibly aimless and without direction.  You could say it’s almost a little too minimalist at times, but that plays in the narrative’s favor as it’s not a movie about answers, rather it’s a film about the questions we often have to ask ourselves; that’s what makes it all so oddly haunting.

It’s a solid ensemble cast from top to bottom but to be honest there really isn’t a leading character in this film…or if there is it’s this small town itself, where to a fault everybody knows everybody and you can’t get away from it to the point that the people and the memories of those who used to live there are still casting a spectral pallor over this desolate small town.  It’s what keeps some people there and it’s what drives others out with little to no rhyme or reason to it all.

Ghost Town Anthology works as well as it does because it’s not trying to get us to some sort of a conclusion; rather it’s actually allowing its characters and by extension us to be reflecting on our entire existences.  It’s a shockingly smart and sly look on the human condition and why we can lose direction in it all from time to time.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
Comments are closed.