Viking: Pizza on Mars? - WORDROM.COM

Viking: Pizza on Mars?

In his latest feature film, an unbridled Quebec sci-fi, Stéphane Lafleur projects us into a more or less distant future, where five men and women with ordinary profiles join the Viking Society by which they have been chosen to participate in a simulation lasting at least two years. While parked behind closed doors in the middle of nowhere, participants must reproduce and solve interpersonal problems that could possibly be encountered, in parallel, by five astronauts about to land on Mars.

By Ève Nadeau, collaborating journalist

Original title : viking | Genre: Science fiction, comedy-drama | Duration: 104 minutes | Director and screenplay: Stéphane Lafleur and Érik K. Boulianne | Cast: Steve Laplante, Larissa Corriveau, Fabiola N. Aladin, Hamza Haq, Denis Houle | Producer: Kim McCraw, Luc Dery

listening to the song Life on , I imagine David Bowie telling me about the life of a bored girl. Her parents despise her, she can’t find her friend anymore, she watches a depressing movie that she has experienced more than ten times. Consequently “homesick for another world”, as the title of Ottessa Moshfegh’s book puts it so well, I hear this girl wondering: is there life on Mars?

For a poetics of boredom and banality

As in previous On familiar ground (2011) and You sleep Nicole (2014) which charmed me, Lafleur, as well as his co-screenwriter Érik K. Boulianne, present us with one or more ordinary characters who yearn for more. The first, David (Steve Laplante), leaves behind his wife, his house, his friends and his job to live the illusion of being able to change his life: he imagines himself to be John Shepard, who perfectly embodies heroism American overrepresented in Hollywood cinema (which Lafleur cleverly points to here). Like his colleagues, David has, a priori, nothing that does not qualify him to personify an astronaut (he is a physical education teacher), apart from his psychological portrait which coincides perfectly with that of Shepard. What is he missing? Something like the title of aerospace engineer. A ship, nothing less.

What comes closest to Mars is on the side of the desaturated desert setting, contemplative shots that nicely show the arid hills and which contrast with the fake astronaut costumes with luminous helmets. Symbolically, as I had already noticed in his 2014 film where the geysers of Iceland sprout in the heart of Montreal, Lafleur’s creativity is endless: scenes of deadpan humor carried by absurd dialogues perfectly mix more phantasmagorical excerpts, not far from a certain magical realism where Steve is represented floating in space, like a semi-astronaut, or when the red planet is shown growing, shaking its colors as in an abstract painting. However, the moments that provoke the most reaction are those where certain details, by their earthly origin, outside the world presented to us by the diegesis, astonish, arouse a smile: the beauty of a flower which grows in the middle of the ground, a party with drunk people dancing, cowboys messing up the simulation, a pizza delivery boy coming in to do his job, when deep down in the real world, these things couldn’t be more mundane.

In viking, Stéphane Lafleur proves to us that even by fleeing for another world a stone’s throw (or almost!) from Mars, as David does, we do not escape so easily the resurgence of boredom and banality.

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