The Twentieth Century (2019)

The Twentieth Century (2019)

An unhinged psychedelic fever dream filled with awe-inspiring visuals

7.8

Movie

Canada
English, French
Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
2019
MATTHEW RANKIN
Annie St-Pierre, Brent Skagford, Catherine St-Laurent
90 min

TLDR

You will die if you watch this while you're not sober.

What it's about

Seeking love and approval all around him, Mackenzie King aspires to become Prime Minister of Canada in this surrealist vision of 1899 Toronto.

The take

A truly bizarre comedy that shoots far beyond the boundaries of what should probably be considered good taste, The Twentieth Century stands as one of the strangest movies ever made based on a historical figure. Adapted from the real Mackenzie King's (Canada's longest-serving prime minister) diaries, the film replaces any traces of reality with psychological projection and almost nonsensical stoner humor. It functions as a satire of the way Canadian society is often depicted as polite (when, according to writer/director Matthew Rankin, it's anything but) and as a portrait of how even the most powerful politicians are just little boys seeking approval and indulging in fetishes to compensate for the love they can never receive.

What stands out

Art director Dany Boivin and cinematographer Vincent Biron deserve credit for creating arguably one of the most striking fantasy worlds ever put on film. Looking and sounding like a vintage Technicolor movie from the '40s or '50s, The Twentieth Century draws from the distorted, angular sets of German Expressionism, to the rigidity of propaganda films, and even more modern comedies about getting high and having really bad trips. There's always something new to look at, even in the way that the characters move across the frame, and it's become increasingly rare to be able to say that about a comedy.

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