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Originally published Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 3:05 PM

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‘Vic + Flo’: drama in a small Quebec town

A three-star review of “Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,” a drama set in the French-Canadian woods.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,’ with Pierette Robitaille, Romane Bohringer, Marc-André Grondin, Marie Brassard. Written and directed by Denis Côté. 95 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In French with English subtitles. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.

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There are no bears in “Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,” and it’s not giving away any of this moody little movie’s secrets to say so. What there is, however, is an assembly of fascinating, real-person faces, gathered to tell a story about what lurks in one’s past. Vic is Victoria (Pierette Robitaille), a 60-ish former convict on parole (we don’t know what her crime was, but she served many years) who’s got the kind of dark, melancholy eyes that may have seen a little too much. Flo is Florence (Romane Bohringer), Vic’s lover and fellow ex-con, who joins her in a cabin in the woods, on the outskirts of a Quebec small town — where they can, perhaps, begin again.

“It’s like death out here,” protests Flo, but Vic prevails; you can see, as she lies in a hammock among the trees, how solitude and vast skies comfort her. Shadows from Flo’s past, though, soon appear; even in the woods, it seems, you can’t hide.

French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Côté (“Curling,” “Bestiaire”) finds an interesting, jittery rhythm, punctuated by long silences, a tribal-drum-like soundtrack, jarring time-jumps and cameras set quietly on the faces of his characters as they ponder their next step. Ultimately, “Vic + Flo” becomes both horrific and strangely, surreally beautiful, in a final moment in the afternoon sun. Bears can come in many forms; so can good movies.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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