Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

After experimenting with minimalistic documentary (Bestiaire), Quebec director Denis Côté returns to the eccentric character work of his best films (Curling, All That She Wants). Released from prison, sexagenarian Victoria (Pierrette Robitaille) moves into a house in the woods with her catatonic uncle, enduring visits from a parole officer; she also picks up with a former, much younger girlfriend, Florence (Romane Bohringer), whose sordid past forces Vic down the wrong path. Côté prevents the film from ever settling into a classifiable mood or genre. His work has a mischievous edge; characters aren’t introduced but simply appear, seemingly coaxed from thin air, their significance unclear. He excels in subverting one’s expectations—the gritty cinematography, for instance, dampens the idyllic, arboreal setting, and woven into the action are subtle strands of paranoia, passion, and malice. As Côté dives deeper into these moods, the film turns aggressive and impressionistic, moving from low-key drama to tragicomic fairy tale. In French with subtitles.