'Missing Victor Pellerin'

An uncanny, uncategorizable film, neither doc- nor mockumentary, Sophie Deraspe's debut feature shares more in common with Nabokov and Borges than recent fake-docs Death of a President and CSA: Confederate States of America. Where those films posit alternative realities to make political points, Victor Pellerin, named after an invented Montreal artist who went missing at the height of his fame, seems as interested in creating a sense of enigmatic wonder as in deflating the pretensions of the contemporary art world. The most apt comparison might rather be Sweet and Lowdown, the Woody Allen fake-doc that, like Pellerin, features interviews with real artists and experts. But Allen only apes standard talking-head cutaways for comic effect; Deraspe turns instead to the conventions of vérité, and the result is a satire that somehow doesn't feel satirical: comic yet humane. Halfway through, when one character steals the camera, turns it around, and asks Deraspe if she ever tells the truth, the director winks: "I'm manipulative, but I don't lie." It's an exceedingly hubristic moment for a first-time filmmaker, yet earned.

 
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