In the moment, it’s easy to get a little invested in Elephant Song, a mysterious drama about a senior doctor, Toby Green (Bruce Greenwood) being called in on Christmas to see if a charismatic patient, Michael (Xavier Dolan, acting in a film he didn’t make himself), knows anything about a missing staff member. Starting with an expanding narrative that keeps the stage play-style film punchy, Elephant Song keeps you nibbling on its breadcrumbs, wanting to piece together a scene and shine a light on the case. When the breadcrumbs start running out, however, the film begins to get desperate for your attention.
Bouncing around the room, Dolan plays a traumatized mastermind who puzzles all of those who have to work around him. Creating a puzzle box to either keep people out or irritate them immensely, he trails Dr. Green and Nurse Susan Peterson (Catherine Keener), toying with their personal details and belief in his accounts. When Charles Binamé’s film is a mystery, it’s good. When it’s strictly a drama, it’s frustrating waves of sentimentality that hemorrhage out of nowhere towards someone has mostly been extremely hostile.
I guess it’s easy to be duped yourself. Characters implanting their emotions that feel like a square peg. Michael, as easy as it is to sympathize with him, is difficult to actually like, aside from his meticulous dedication to irritating those around him. (Zack Kotzer)
Wednesday, September 10th, 6:30pm, Isabel Bader Theatre
Thursday, Sept. 11th, 5:00pm, Scotiabank 2