Hot Docs 2014: Joy of Man’s Desiring Review

The Joy of Mans Desiring - Hot Docs 2014

Joy of Man’s Desiring

Canadian Spectrum

Not a documentary in the strictest sense of the word, the latest film from consistently intriguing filmmaker Denis Côté asks if one can truly understand the depression, anxiety, and mindset of every day labourers without ever actually seeing their work? Can one understand a fiction without understanding the truth, and where then does that line truly get drawn?

A rare breed of film that can be contradictorily described as being hypnotic, subdued, and completely vibrant at the same time, Côté spends most of the first half of the film observing everyday workers (metalworkers, launderers, coffee roasters) as the machines in their lives provide a symphonic kind of rhythm that makes the monotony they must feel bearable to watch to an audience. Outside of a wonderful opening sequence involving an actor setting up what’s to follow (one of the best sequences of Côté’s career thus far), there’s little dialogue until the film’s second half which tells a fictional story of a depressed man and a woman who desperately wants to land a job she can feel good about.


The result is a fictional-essay hybrid that works wonders, shot in Côté’s gorgeous documentarian style. It’s an almost existential Marxist text, but damn if it isn’t a lot more enthralling and vital than it sounds. Côté has once again reinvented himself as an artist, blending his masterful work as an essayist with his most empathetic material yet. It might be the best film of his career so far.


Saturday, April 26th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3, 9:45pm

Sunday, April 27th, Scotiabank 7, 7:30pm


Saturday, May 3rd, TIFF Bell Lightbox 4, 7:30pm