IDFA 2016, Resurrecting Hassan

This was a strange one. The main screen in Tuschinski, a beautiful enormous Art Deco space with about 30 people spaced around. As I was walking to my seat, I walked past a group of blind moviegoers in the front row. I thought, How odd! and realized after it began that they were the protagonists.
A Quebecois blind family is mourning their son who drowned in 2002 at the age of 7. The film doesn’t directly deal with the family’s handicap, nor does it explicitly show the day-to-day difficulties they must experience; rather, it seems that their blindness is an unimportant detail to the real subject, which is trying to resurrect their son. They meet with mediums, attend symposia and follow an esoteric guru who claims that resurrection is literal and that they will soon be able to bring their son back from the dead, doubtless facilitated by a generous donation in his name. The same guru claims that organ regeneration, based on optimism and faith, is completely possible right now. The irony of a blind diabetic believing in organ regeneration seems lost on them all.
As in so many films, the main subject of the movie turns out to be completely different than we believed at the beginning. Is this also a surprise for the filmmaker, a development he didn’t anticipate? For we soon see that resurrecting their son has ecome secondary to the other tensions in their lives. Denis and Lauviah both sing in the metro to make a few extra dollars while Peggy stands and holds the hat. Father and daughter seem to share another gene, that of autism. Denis is well-adjusted and hides it well, but we learn that he has violent tendencies while Lauviah is demonstrates typically autistic behavior, especially when her parents fight. We also discover that Peggy is having an online affair which she manages to hide from Denis but we see her falling in love with a faraway stranger. The end of the movie shows her leaving for Paris to meet her new love while Hassan seems more or less to be forgotten.
And there they all were! The whole family came up onstage and they seemed much more likable than they had in the film. All except Lauviah, who was so involved in fidgeting and ducking that she seemed unaware of the public. Peggy told us that she had gotten married last month to Philou, the online stranger! So that’s nice. And he was even in the audience. They were all mini, tiny people. A strange experience.


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