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Analeine Cal y Mayor
It's January, 1966 at St. Christina's Psychiatric Hospital in Northwestern Ontario. Dr. Toby Greene and Nurse Susan Peterson are individually being interviewed by Dr. Craig Jones, one of the hospital's administrators, about the incident that occurred just before Christmas, the day that their colleague, Dr. James Lawrence, inexplicably did not show up for work. As Dr. Lawrence disappeared the day before during a session with one of his regular patients, a young man named Michael Aleen, the belief among some is that Michael may have had something to do with Dr. Lawrence's disappearance. That day, Dr. Greene took over Dr. Lawrence's patient-load, which included a session with Michael to try and discover if he indeed had some nefarious role in Dr. Lawrence's disappearance. Dr. Greene did not know Michael at all, and was unable to read his case file before meeting with Michael. Regardless, Dr. Greene believed he could read Michael and glean as much from his lies as from his truths. ...Written by
When a psychiatrist mysteriously disappears after a session with a mentally disturbed young man, a colleague is brought in to coax answers out of the youth, which leads to mind games, trickery and emotional manipulation in this Canadian thriller. The film starts off well with a great sense of mystery in terms of what happened to the psychiatrist and what the young man is like; he is built up like Hannibal Lector in 'The Silence of the Lambs': a character with whom one has to be careful when talking to. Xavier Dolan (yes, the director of 'I Killed My Mother' and 'Laurence Anyways'!) is superb as the mysterious youth, "just because I'm crazy doesn't mean I'm stupid", while Bruce Greenwood is also solid as the colleague. The film is let down though by a humdrum solution to the mystery and while there is a small emotional wallop as one realises why Dolan has been institutionalised at the end, the final act does not resonate half as much as the opening act. Greenwood's home life is left hazy too; his daughter possibly has Down Syndrome, and he is living with a woman who he calls 'aunt', but is she his sister? Nothing is clear, including why his home life is even included. At its best and most focused though, 'Elephant Song' is a riveting portrait of two very intelligent individuals trying to one-up each other in conversation and manipulation with real tension in the air.
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