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LAFF Review: JOY OF MAN’S DESIRING

When you go to film festivals, or at least when I do, it’s very easy to just go see something and know hardly anything about it. This is my preferred M.O. I read part of the little blurb in the program and that’s about it. It’s a crap-shoot for sure, but one that often pays dividends, because at the very least I’ll have seen something I wasn’t expecting. The definite winner of this award at this year’s LA Film Fest for me is without a doubt Denis Cote’s film, Joy of Man’s Desiring, a day-in-the-life sort of semi-documentary about workers in a factory in Quebec. I have no idea if it was scripted or not.

There isn’t a story to this film, per say; it’s mostly a series of long shots in which workers at a factory that produces something (it’s very unclear) spend their days doing their various labors. Every so often, there are short conversations between workers, either about work or not, and then more long stretches of work, or people looking alternately despondent and content doing their jobs. Eventually, some of the workers start to have what may well be scenes of written dialogue, involving depressed workers and single mothers and people working on Saturdays and the like.

It’s interesting to watch a movie like this because at first you feel like “is this all there is?” Long scenes of machinery humming and people doing jobs you aren’t sure about what exactly they entail doesn’t seem like the most engaging of films. However, once you get into the rhythm of what’s going on, it becomes oddly engrossing and compelling and by the end, you feel like you’ve seen something unique.

You might enjoy the movie or you might think it’s super boring. I liked it, ultimately. And, hey, it’s only 70 minutes. Oh, it’s in French, too. So there’s that.

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