Denys Arcand’s ‘An Eye for Beauty’ Might Benefit From More of an Eye for Drama


Attractive, humorless Canadian yuppies golf and play tennis in slow motion, ski, hunt geese, grow marijuana, and cheat on their partners in this feeble soap opera that’s as stilted and unsexy as an adolescent dry hump.

There’s not much reason or regret when vaguely dissatisfied Québécois architect Luc (Éric Bruneau) begins a brief affair with Toronto colleague Lindsay (Melanie Merkosky), their tastefully nude, writhing bodies showcasing no believable chemistry whatsoever. Nor is there any between Luc and his vaguely depressed wife, Stéphanie (Mélanie Thierry), who starts to show signs of fully unraveling, so maybe it’s not a wise idea to keep the hunting rifles so handy.

It’s an accidentally self-parodic examination of bourgeois vapidity, with writer-director Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions) padding out his tin-eared self-seriousness with subplots about Luc’s relationship with his dying mentor (Michel Forget) while Stéphanie sneaks around with and then shoos one half of a lesbian couple.

Cinematographer Nathalie Moliavko-Visotzky (Martyrs) polishes up every immaculate exterior frame into postcard-perfect serenity, but when scripted this bluntly, even wintry Baie-Saint-Paul and summery Toronto (and eventually, chilly Québec City) are tedious landscapes-as-metaphors for the emotional warmth or frigidity between these mannequins for hire. The only one getting seduced around here is the local tourism board.

An Eye for Beauty
Written and directed by Denys Arcand
Monument Releasing
Opens April 15, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas