A Skin So Soft
Ta peau si lisse
True North | True North
Famed Quebecois master Denis Côté returns to VIFF with his best film since Vic + Flo Saw a Bear: a docu-fictional portrait of semi-professional body builders as they train for an upcoming competition and pageant. Côté immerses us in the everyday exercises of these muscularly crisp and socially isolated human sculptures: Ronald Yang, who balances family with training; Benoît Lapierre, who once competed but now serves on the sidelines as a New Age-y guru and coach; and Alexis Légaré, who is the youngest in the group and can’t motivate his girlfriend to keep up with his fitness plan. Blurring the line between their real selves and their fictional counterparts in the film, these actor-models are frequently presented in poses and the performance of animalistic rituals: flexing, exercising, consuming.
Untethered from conventional narrative, A Skin so Soft fills in story gaps with a skillful formalism. Tatted, pumped-up, and silky-smooth, these men are overtly concerned with their objectified image. Côté’s chief strategy is to reveal their inherently "feminine" side, even as they perform the roles that have developed from their macho ideals. In so doing, he exposes the vulnerable souls hiding behind these men’s fantastically bulbous exteriors.
"Côté employs an understated, non-interventionist approach to show the daily lives of these men, which by the very nature of their pumped-up bodies has a built-in exaggeration."—Jay Weissberg, Variety