TIFF 2014 Review: An Eye For Beauty
From Academy Award winning director Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions) An Eye for Beauty is a critique of bourgeois life in Quebec and almost a love story. Luc (Érin Bruneau) is a successful young architect living the dream with a beautiful wife in a chic home surrounded by wilderness. He returns home from an architectural jury in Toronto to have a dinner party with his friends. It is here that we are given our first clue that all is not entirely perfect in Luc’s life. His wife Stephanie remains at the table sullen faced while Luc and their friends go off to the woods to inspect Luc’s newest marijuana plant.
Luc begins an intense if brief affair with a woman he meets in Toronto. Despite appearing to be in love with his wife he does not hesitate to reciprocate Laura’s (Melanie Merkosky) advances. It is only when his wife’s depression spirals out of control that we see any hint of guilt or conflict. Arcand leaves the viewer to decide if Luc is in fact in love with Laura or if they are merely using each other as stepping stones. She is stuck in an unfulfilling marriage to her high-school sweetheart; he is increasingly overwhelmed by his wife’s condition and bored by life in rural Quebec.
Arcand gives us a visually stunning film, filled with dream like shots of the St. Lawrence with special attention to changes in season. Heck, even the scenes of tennis playing and skiing are eloquent even if they add little to the plot save to remind us that Luc is living a somewhat clichéd life.
Despite strong performance from both Bruneau and Merkosky it feels like their romance is never fully developed and because of this An Eye for Beauty falls just short of satisfying.