out of Five
Running time: 80
Superbly made, frequently funny and surprisingly moving, Guy Maddin's weird and wonderful semi-documentary is a genuine treat.
What's it all about?
Described by writer-director Guy Maddin as a docufantasia, My Winnipeg is a semi-fictional documentary that presents a personal history of Maddin's hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Within the film itself, Maddin (represented on screen by Darcy Fehr) wants to leave Winnipeg, so he decides to film his way out and recreates his past by renting his childhood home and casting actors as his siblings (Amy Stewart, Brendan Cade and Wesley Cade) and mother (Ann Savage, from film noir classic Detour).
With a dry, witty voiceover and using a combination of black and white archive footage, home movies, specially filmed black and white scenes, rear-projection effects, animation and bursts of colour, Maddin explores the history of Winnipeg, particularly the ways in which it affected his own life, such as when the city knocked down his beloved Winnipeg Arena (where Maddin claims he was born) and replaced it with a much uglier building.
There's a surreal, dreamlike feel to the film which works beautifully as Maddin dips in and out of various stories, memories and local legends. Highlights include: his evocative memories of growing up in his mother's hair salon; a loaded family argument between his mother and his sister, after she hit a deer with her car; a story about runaway horses becoming frozen in the river, with just their heads poking out of the ice; and the story of If Day, in which actors dressed as Nazis terrorised the town in 1942, as an incentive to buy war bonds.
My Winnipeg would make a terrific companion piece with Terence Davies'
Of Time and The City, as they're remarkably similar films that complement each other in weird and interesting ways. Hopefully someone will have the sense to program them together when Davies' film is released in October.
My Winnipeg is a visual treat from start to finish, this is one of the weirdest and most rewarding films you'll see all year. Recommended.