Contemporary World Cinema

Les Affamés

Robin Aubert

Ravenous 01

A remote village in Quebec is terrorized by a flesh-eating plague, in the latest from Robin Aubert.

One of the most unique voices in Québécois cinema, Robin Aubert has flirted with genre before. But with his latest, the riveting zombie film Les Affamés, he plunges in head (and brains) first. Though, as one might expect, it's marked as much by his own obsessions as it is by the established conventions.

Aubert introduces his principals in a casual, almost cinema-verité style. They include a well-to-do woman; a young farm boy who has killed his parents; a strangely silent hipster (Monia Chokri) with a suspicious wound that just won't heal; and the presumptive hero, Bonin (Marc-André Grondin), who has acclimatized to the apocalypse very quickly and may be the only one with a belief in a future.

Les Affamés is punctuated by an offcolour, gallows humour, a steamy, hyperreal look, and moments of twitchy surrealism — much of it propelled by the bizarre, often compulsive, behaviour of the zombies themselves, who seem to spend most of their time in a trance.

As in Aubert's earlier anti-pastorals, the Quebec countryside is a playground for a cultural and historical id, where a society's most sinister impulses and most repressed traumas enjoy free rein. As with the best zombie movies, Les Affamés is partly about politics and partly about the fear of the masses overpowering individuals and minorities, something that can happen even in the most sedate and beautiful locations.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

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