“Lines of Escape” (“Lignes de fuite”)
Screened at the Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (4.5/5); Letterboxd (4.5/5), Imdb.com (9/10)
Given the social, economic, political and environmental challenges we face today, it would seem that, if we hope to survive, it would be in all of our best interests if we were to work together on these issues, right? But are we truly capable of that in light of the rampant intransigent polarization that has infected society on all of these fronts? That fundamental lack of cooperation seems counterproductive, that we should all strive to get along. At the very least, it seems reasonable to expect that should be the case among friends, but is that even attainable? That’s called into question in this wickedly biting dark comedy-drama about a reunion of three old friends (Catherine Chabot, Marianna Mazza, Léane Labrèche-Dor) and their significant others (Maxime de Cotret, Victoria Diamond, Mickaël Gouin) for what’s supposed to be a fun-filled night on the town in Montreal. However, things have changed in the nearly 15 years since high school, and what starts out as an evening of fun and games gradually turns ugly as the differences that distinguish the onetime pals begin to surface, shining a bright light on the pervasiveness and dangers of polarization. Directors Miryam Bouchard and Catherine Chabot have assembled a wickedly funny, bitingly cynical tale for our times, one whose stern message hits the nail squarely on the head, an offering somewhat reminiscent of the satirical dark comedy “The Party” (2017). Some might say the picture goes too far at times (an argument not entirely without merit) that decidedly takes us out of our comfort zone, coming across like the heated discourse one often finds on social media, especially in the film’s somewhat stagey final act. But sometimes it takes a blatant, in-your-face exchange of such senseless, unbridled venom to reflect back to us what’s transpiring in everyday life. That’s particularly true if we ever hope to work together to address the problems we face – and to weather the consequences we might have to deal with if we don’t.