The Noise of Engines (Le Bruit des Moteurs, 2021)
Director (and writer): Philippe Grégoire
Cast: Robert Naylor, Alexandrine Agostini, Marc Beaupré, Tanja Bjork, Maxime Genois, Marie-Therese Fortin, Naila Rabel
Alexandre, an instructor at the Canadian customs college, will finds himself under surveillance by police investigators trying to get to the bottom of the sexually explicit drawings that have been troubling the town. – IMDB
The Noise of Engines is Philippe Gregoire’s debut feature. It is an interesting one to talk about no doubt. Filled with dry humor in a rural small town Quebec setting where only a few things are known, the story follows a Canada Customers firearms instructor who is suspended for inappropriate sexual conduct and goes back home for two weeks for his suspension while telling it as a vacation. As he returns to help his mom with their family business running the racing track, he gets approached by a young Icelandic female drag racer with an incredible love for André Forcier’s films. They share each other’s views and stories while Alexandre is under suspicion of an investigation of sexually explicit drawings first found at the church but showing up elsewhere.
This film starts off in the right direction. The dry humor is right on point and the story feels very correlated as it sets up the workplace environment where Alexandre works as well as his character. It gives a good feeling of his relationship with his mother which is a bit conflicting with some tension and some care as well. And it also sets up his character towards his feelings towards the town and the authority that it has, specifically the two officers investigating the town’s troubling affair. Much like the Icelandic female drag racer which enters on a rather bizarre note as well. All these characters set in their place rather quickly and the humor sets in along with it.
In some ways, the film explores the small town in its rather humorous jab at the normalcy. However, it also highlights the hurdles of both authority and the small town diplomacy much like the deeper issues that get him suspended as well as the mysterious drawings and its artist. While the film itself does feel slightly disjointed at parts, especially when it enters the final 15 to 20 minutes which takes a rather abstract form, moving into the no narrative scenic wandering from Alexandre, it does still have a charm to it both in its humor and the story of Alexandre as he tells more about both his unintentional career choice and what he wants in his heart.
Overall, The Noise of Engines starts off as a comedic film which takes a turn gradually to something a bit more dramatic and relatively deep. It does feel a tad abstract in some executions especially its ending but it still has some conversations that do give some room for thought. There’s a little bit of mystery as the question of who drew the drawings looms in the air despite the absurd suspicion the officers have. As an afterthought, there is a subtle connection of André Forcier films that are mentioned but I have no idea who it is and haven’t seen his films so maybe its time to look that up.
*The Noise of Engines is showing during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on its virtual platform until October 31st.*
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