The Acrobat **
Starring: Sébastien Ricard, Yury Paulau
Director: Rodrigue Jean
Christophe (Ricard) is looking for a flat in Montreal. When he views an apartment in a skyscraper still under construction, he encounters a Russian acrobat with a broken leg (Paulau) who is clearly living rough on the floor. Instead of notifying security, he is fascinated by this handsome and gruff stranger and it doesn’t take long until they’re having sex on the bare floor. Buying the apartment, he allows the stranger to stay and the two embark on a psycho-sexual relationship in which his guest refuses to tell him his name.
Exploring the sexual connection between the two, this is definitely not a romantic movie. Sex becomes a power balance between them, in a battle to dominate and for attention. Christophe becomes obsessed with the Russian, which is exactly what he wants. The film depicts real sex, but shows restraint much of the time, even if it isn’t shy of showing an ejaculation on screen. It also takes much pleasure in revelling in actor Yury Paulau’s hyper-masculine good looks, with him mostly undressed for most of the movie.
However. The film drags its feet like a Year 9 in a museum. It plods along at a glacial pace, showing extensive sequences of the construction occurring on their building in the snow, some of which are several minutes in length. Seeing this hard relationship develop in this bleak industrial landscape is interesting, but it’s an over-laboured point that means its run-time hits two and a quarter hours, in which very little happens.
As the relationship becomes more and more about degradation, the acrobat is compensating for his inability to do his job in a leg-cast. The physicalisation of this mental anguish makes sense, but is an over-wrought point once again and though the film’s acting is drenched in subtle nuance, the plot really isn’t. Both Ricard and Paulau give truly accomplished performances, but it struggles with its commitment to realism, making it staid and quite, quite dull.
OUT NOW TO WATCH ON DEMAND ON DEKKOO, OR ON 29TH SEPTEMBER 2020 ON DVD, RELEASED BY TLA RELEASING.