Toronto, IDFA, CPH:DOX, New York, London, Karlovy Vary, Reykjavik, Doclisboa, Vienna, Denver, AFI Fest, Melbourne, Tempo Doc, Vilnius, Singapore, BAFICI, Docaviv, Seattle
A portrait of six bodybuilders.
Like other work by Côté, his latest is a hybrid, but distinctly geared toward the nonfiction side, with only a few scenes ostensibly staged for his camera. Otherwise, the Quebec filmmaker takes a subdued observational approach to his protagonists, a range of French Canadian men who are hyper-focused on their bodies. Eschewing interviews or text cards, the film presents each man in his quotidian routine, often involving working out, preparing meals, eating, or posing, Côté’s camera zeroing in on their muscles as some kind of unearthly terrain. A couple of the men are younger, apparently relatively new to the sport, while others seem to be old pros. One doesn’t exactly fit the same profile as the rest – a bulkier, unchiseled strongman and professional wrestler. Bodybuilding competitions are shown only fleetingly, almost besides the point. Instead, this oddly compelling film turns its gaze on hyper-masculinity and how its subjects self-consciously primp and polish, putting themselves on display to be judged.