Joy of Man's Desiring

Following his remarkably offbeat drama Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (2013), the prolific Quebecois director Denis Côté returns to the documentary-essay style of his Carcasses (2009) and Bestiare (2012) with this meticulous and poetic study of industrial labor. Côté explores various factories, framing the workers and heavy machinery in fussily composed static shots that have a subtly menacing quality. He circles around a variety of ideas—man’s alienation from machines, the demoralizing nature of manual labor, how francophone immigrants and Quebecois natives acculturate in the workplace—but doesn’t offer any direct conclusions. Like Bestiare, whose imagery associates humans with animals, this is chiefly an experiential exercise; the amazing sound design, courtesy of Frédéric Cloutier and Clovis Gouaillier, turns the mechanical clang into arrhythmic music, making the toil seem like dancing. In French with subtitles.