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Canadian Film Fest Review: The Noise of Engines

March 23, 2022

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

The 2022 Canadian Film Fest runs in two segments from March 22nd to 26th and March 29th to April 2nd, exclusively on Super Channel.

Alexandre (Robert Naylor) is a firearms instructor working at the Canadian customs college, training customs officers how to fire guns that the government has now required them to carry. After being put on compulsory leave for having a kinky affair with one of the trainees, he goes back to his hometown in rural Quebec. Alexandre starts hanging around at his family’s race track, where he meets an Icelandic drag racer (Tanja Björk, a Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress), who insists that he show her around the town and becomes somewhat of a mystic guide.

But a series of lewd drawings featuring Alexandre engaged in various sexual acts have starting popping up around town, and he is being trailed by police who blame him for the crude art. Written and directed by Quebec filmmaker Philippe Grégoire, making his feature debut, The Noise of Engines plays out as a mix of droll comedy, political satire and character drama. Gregoire received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Director, and there are some interesting directorial choices in the film. Several scenes unfold in stationary wide shots, with Shawn Pavlin’s strong cinematography being one of the highlights.

It’s a short film at 79 minutes, and Grégoire packs a lot in, vaguely addressing issues of cancel culture, workplace harassment and the #MeToo movement through an increasingly surrealistic lens that melds reality with the imaginary. The result is a somewhat strange little movie, and it’s a bit hard to figure out exactly what it is trying to say. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting effort. Naylor carries the film with a committed performance as the at times volatile and hostile protagonist, and The Noise of Engines ultimately serves as a unique and confident feature debut for Grégoire that is worth a look.

The Noise of Engines plays tonight on Super Channel at 9 PM and Midnight (ET). Tickets and more information can be found right here.

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