Rencontre (Review)

Rencontre is a simple, bittersweet haiku about unexpected encounters and their equally unexpected brevity, directed by Toronto-based director Brennan Martin. The short film won the awards for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Film at the TAPFest, a film festival for GTA (Greater Toronto Area) productions founded by the actors’ collective The Actors Place.

A down-to-earth tale of two paths crossing, a young woman asking for change in exchange for a song, and a young Frenchman, backpacking through North America. A hesitant yet spontaneous sympathy develops between the two, only to succumb to the hurry of life. The French dialogues give the film a Quebec vibe (slightly exotic for Toronto?), cutting out the couple into a bubble in the anglophone surroundings. A constant sensation of something quickly and inevitably escaping pervades Rencontre — a feeling proven at the end of the story.

Filmed in downtown Toronto, in parks and bars easily recognizable to those familiar with the area, Rencontre has an unpretentious, everyday, it-could-happen-to-anyone feel that allows us to easily slip into the story and bond with the characters during the seven minutes of the film. Director Brennan Martin talks to HNMag about the minimal crew: “Our crew was really just myself and our sound man Will Bembridge, so we could save time on set. The lighting in the film was also natural, so we didn’t need to make the actors wait between scenes.”

A couple of glitches in acting don’t take away from the heartwarming performances of the two leads Mylène Thériault and Florian Francois, who had brought the original script to the director. Martin explains that “I find that it’s really a benefit if an actor can write or help write the script, and to give them time to play on set. I think that is what helped the film do so well at TAPfest this spring.”

Rencontre has been submitted to the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, as Brennan Martin concludes, “After the final cut of the film, I felt like it really came together well with editing and the performances, and so we decided to submit it to TIFF in the Canadian short category. I went to TIFF last year as a conference member and saw a bunch of shorts, and I’m hoping Rencontre can make the cut this year.”

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