Falcon Lake (2022)

Falcon Lake (2022)

A revelatory coming-of-age movie that toes a delicate balance between brooding and beautiful

The Very Best



Canada, France
English, French
Drama, Mystery, Romance
Anthony Therrien, Arthur Igual, Éléonore Loiselle
100 min


Falcon Lake brings the horror movie-tinge of your teenage years floating to the surface.

What it's about

A 13-year-old boy forges a tender bond with a 16-year-old girl on a summer vacation in the Canadian woods.

The take

The gorgeous grain of Falcon Lake’s lush 16mm cinematography instantly gives it an air of nostalgia, as if the movie is an intimate reflection on a precious formative summer. That effect is confirmed over the film’s runtime: it takes place from the perspective of Bastien (Joseph Engel), a 13-year-old French boy whose family is being hosted at a Quebec lake cabin by their friend and her 16-year-old daughter Chloe (Sara Montpetit). The woodland setting could be idyllic or eerie, a duality brought explicitly to the fore by Chloe, whose interests lean towards the macabre.

It’s not long before Bastien becomes smitten with the assured older girl, and it's their dynamic that gives Falcon Lake its profoundly captivating effect. Though the movie’s gothic undertones do give it a troubling air of tension, the way they come to the surface in its ending feels a little inharmonious to the delicate human drama that the teens have built up until then. Both actors turn in performances so extraordinarily nuanced and naturalistic that Falcon Lake doesn’t need that twist — it already stands as a deeply affecting coming-of-age portrait, one in which tenderness and betrayal are raw new pleasures and pains to be discovered.

What stands out

The two lead performances. Joseph Engel conjures a teenage boy who is full of the sharp contradictions of a kid discovering himself and life for the first time: though he’s shy and awkward, he inflates with bravado at parties (surprising all the 19-year-olds when he hits a clean milly rock) and finds a gentler, sweeter confidence with Chloe. Though Chloe is much more naturally assured, Montpetit hints at concealed vulnerability when she confides in Bastien about hurtful romantic experiences. The complex tenderness that blossoms between them is far and away Falcon Lake’s finest quality, as attested to by the fact that, when it turns sour, it’s a more devastating blow than what comes after.

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