Friday, November 29, 2013

BITS 2013 Film Review - Discopathe

Duane Lewis (Jeremie Earp) is working at a diner in New York in 1976 when three customers enter with a radio that's playing an early disco tune. The sound and the speakers mesmerize Duane. He burns the order he is working on and fired.  Next he heads to the skate park where he meets a young girl who brings him back to her home then out to a popular disco club. He has the same reaction waking up the next day alone and confused with blood on his clothes. He vacates the scene to find the morning paper reporting that the girl he was with the night before was murdered.  He flees New York that morning heading for Montreal.

The story jumps ahead 4 years to Montreal in 1980. The setting is College Sainte-Lucie girls Catholic  boarding school and from the first few scenes it appears that the plot has shifted focus to a new set of characters. However when the deaf and dumb school character is introduced using the name Martin Lopez it's clear that Duane has changed his identity and is using hearing aids to avert his murderous tendencies.  He managed to keep quiet for 4 years but when two young students say behind for some along time to experiment on a long weekend Duane hears their disco 45's and his murderous tendencies return even stronger.

Director Renaud Gautier has created a homage to 70's exploitation, grindhouse fare. It's full of over the top acting especially by the three main police officers in the piece and the frantic pace including lengthy chase scenes on foot shot at a distance that is common for the era. The back story on Duane is a traumatic event in his youth when his father a music aficionado who while fooling around with tape to tape machines, speakers, wires and mixer manages to electrocute himself right in front of young Duane.

The Music is a bevy of 70's staples that is heavy on K.C. and the Sunshine Band. The main song used is Walter Murphy's band Flight 76 that serves as the films theme and appears several other times rung the piece particularly when Duane is torturing a hostage in the basement of St. Lucie. Another tune that works well is I'm a Boogie Man from the aforementioned K.C. and the Sunshine Band.  It's the track that first gets him switched on in New York and serves the story well as boogieman can have two different meanings. The Quebecois song Stop ou Encore is the 45 the private school girls were spinning that sets Duane off again and is the background music to his attack and brutalization of the pair.

The best work on the film goes to the set, prop and wardrobe department. From the first dolly shot along the counter with the authentic mid 70's 7up and Pepsi Cola bottles to the 1980's gas guzzling vehicles the items in the film ring true.

The recreation of the Quebecair gate check in and stewardess outfits brings the viewer back to a bygone era. The set even had a vintage poster announcing the 76' Montreal Olympics and the 70's staple plastic gate airport lounge chairs.

The male characters sport wide collars and ties while the girls at the skate park are adorned with Linda Ronstadt style tanks and shorts to accompany their 4 wheel roller skates.

The ensemble cast filled their roles well. The vision of this piece was camp with a side of horror and a touch of humour. No one performance stood out amongst the group but the cast hits its stride more in the Montreal part of the piece as most are Francophone.

Discopathe is a very specific genre film who's enthusiasts will seek out the material.  It is not meant to be and won't find a mass audience or distribution. It has some good passages and a very different premise. Fans of the era will appreciate Gautier's effort and attention to detail but overall it's too uneven a piece to recommend to a wider audience.

** 1/2 Out of 4.

Discopathe | Renauld Gautier / Marie - Claire  Lalonde | Canada | 81 Minutes.

Tags: Serial Killer, Disco, 1970's, Childhood Trauma, Catholic School, Private School, Crime, Detectives,  Cold Case.

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