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Fantastic Fest Review: Truffe

By  · Published on October 12th, 2009

A black and white film in French that’s from Canada basically has three strikes against it before it gets out of the starting gate, but Truffe gives more than enough reasons to give it a chance. Funny, insane, and randomly poignant, the film has a lot going for it and has some strong performances to back it up.

After that damned Global Warming has messed up the environment, it’s also created a massive boon in truffles in Montreal where a new business has taken over. Unfortunately, supplies are finite, and a new company has moved in under the guise of a pelt-selling shop that, of course, is more intent on sending out furry mind-control drones to take over the wealth of the truffle-hunting biz. On the outskirts of the war is freelance truffle-miner Charles (Roy Dupuis) who has to struggle to make a living and not get choked by a muppet.

This movie is an odd house built on a strange foundation, but for the most part it’s harmless and fun. The opening notes on the future of class warfare and impending economic meltdown are created in a fantastical world that seems like it’s only a few doors down from our own. The black and white actually aids this in evoking both “The Twilight Zone” and classic cinematography where the use of shadows and light is more important than anything else.

The main draw in this new world of truffle-hunting (which on its own seems pretty ridiculous), is Charles and Alice (Celine Bonnier) who play their character with absolute seriousness. After all, it’s their reality no matter how quirky it seems to us, and the chemistry between the two is undeniably fun. Add on top of that the enigmatic Miss Kinsdale (Michele Richard) as the delightful, bowl-cut-wearing, psychopath, and you have a trio that makes the film as rich as the foodstuffs they’re hunting.

And then it turns into a creature feature. Sort of.

As if the visual styling, the concept, and the array of men with refrigerators strapped to their backs wasn’t odd enough – director Kim Nguyen tosses in some of the cutest monsters I’ve ever seen. Imagine a ferret puppet that chokes you and controls your mind, and you’re on the right track. In what could have been a severe drag on the film (and more proof of its low budget) Nguyen makes the creatures work the old fashioned way by not showing a lot of them, playing some of their shots for laughs, and giving them a sci-fi power right out of the paranoid days of the 1950s. Plus, the black and white helps out again.

Over all, the film doesn’t leave much to take home – it’s quick, quirky, and it delivers on laughs and its unique fantasy element. It’s often beautiful to look at, the acting is fantastic, and if you dug down deep enough you might come up with a few questions that it raises, but ultimately Truffe works best by being fun and not overstaying its welcome.

The Upside: A strange fantasy that looks great, has solid performances, and anthropomorphic coon-skin caps.

The Downside: It’s a little too digestible, there are some amateur moments that stick out, and many of them belie how low-budget the film is.

On the Side: Stars Roy Dupuis and Celine Bonnier are a couple in real life.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.