Starring Stéphanie Lapointe and Charles-Alexandre Dubé. In French with English subtitles. Unrated. Opens Friday, January 4, at the Vancity Theatre
Like most movies with the word Liverpool in the title, this one does not take place by the banks of the River Mersey. Instead, the action unfolds in Montreal (a port city: this fact is fairly central to the plot), where the name designates a trendy downtown nightclub.
Emilie (Stéphanie Lapointe), the hero of Manon Briand’s long-awaited follow-up to Chaos and Desire, works as a coat-check girl in that upscale watering hole, quietly accepting the fact that nobody ever notices her (which is odd, since she has looks that would turn heads at a supermodel convention). Unbeknownst to her, however, a computer nerd and would-be journalist (Charles-Alexandre Dubé), Thomas, quietly yearns for her. Thomas is unable to speak his mind until an ill-fated good deed unwittingly involves Emilie in a criminal conspiracy to dump electronic waste in Third World countries.
In many respects, Liverpool is structured like one of Alfred Hitchcock’s deliberately flimsy romantic capers. We are light years removed from the dreamy science-fictional tropes of Briand’s previous feature, a near-masterpiece that begged favourable comparison with Geoff Murphy’s The Quiet Earth and Peter Weir’s The Last Wave.
Still, if her latest feature is less memorable, it’s also more fun. Liverpool maintains a pace frenetic enough to hold our attention from first glimpse to final credits, without obscuring our understanding of what’s going on. Best of all, the film fairly hums with a sense of youthful freedom, while its gleeful acceptance of popular dissent constitutes an agreeable slap in the face to the world’s distressing—and increasing—willingness to let sleeping swine lie.