Denis Côté (Bestiaire, Vic + Flo ont vu un ours) examines the lives, limits, and livelihoods of six high-level bodybuilders as they prepare for future competitions, follow extreme diets, and attempt to achieve physical perfection.
Denis Côté, one of Canada's most accomplished, versatile, and consistently surprising filmmakers, alternates between bigger-budget fiction features and more independent, observational hybrid documentaries. A companion of sorts to his superb Bestiaire — a hushed, crepuscular portrait of zoo animals in rural Quebec — Ta peau si lisse closely follows six Québécois bodybuilders as they go about their daily regimen of maintaining their enlarged, sculpted physiques in preparation for bodybuilding championships.
Shot in formally precise compositions that evoke both the intimate and the uncanny, the film approaches the strongmen with a genuine sense of curiosity and compassion, and reveals the complexities of balancing their workout rituals — and the careful meting out of food and vitamin supplements and practicing their elaborate poses (whether for a camera, a girlfriend or a mother!) — with their personal lives, which, in some cases, are adversely affected by the constant pressures of their physical and mental upkeep. As the proportions of the men's bodies are "observed, evaluated, and analyzed" (to quote from a life-drawing teacher's instructions), Côté crafts a droll and tender portrait of these modern-day gladiators, whose personalities and sensibilities are fascinatingly distinct, driven as they are by a mutual idea of physical perfection.