Denis Cote's Bestiaire is a hard film to put into words. It's curious, compelling, and perplexing but ultimately a film in which one person will get something different out of than the next. With Bestiaire, Cote pains a contemplative portrait of animals living in captivity at Quebec's Parc Safari, but while most filmmakers couldn't resist biasing the film with their point of view, Cote's film is an incredibly fascinating meditation on the relationship between man and beast. This is not a scathing commentary oabout animals in captivity nor a light-hearted nature doc, this is a film about coexistence. In fact, the films ability to remain neutral on such a combustive topic is impressive in it's own right but that isn't to say the confinement of these animals' isn't felt. Perhaps the opening sequence of the film in which we witness art students, using a stuffed deer as their latest subject to sketch, encapsulates how Cote's interest in man and beast goes far beyond the captivity debate. Bestiaire features absolutely no music or dialogue throughout its 70 minute running time, relying on gorgeously composed and framed imagery to speak for itself. The film is endlessly intoxicating because of imagery alone, but there are points in which the films seems to almost transport the viewer into the headspace of these animals, and at times, captures how similar they can be too mankind. I'm sure some will find this film boring but this film was intoxicating for me, with the lack of music and dialogue only heightening the observational experience. Denis Cote's Bestiaire is certainly not a film for the average filmgoer but if you are looking for something different, compex, or challenging, Bestiaire should not be missed.
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