Set in 1991, Polaroid Song focuses on 18 year-old Lise (Audrey Giacomini) as she reaches that important moment where adolescence ends and adulthood begins. Gifted with a talent for photography, Lise spends most of her time documenting the all girl rock band Periodlink as they prepare for their first live show. Lead singer Flory (Nolwenn Auguste), bass player Ivy (Hélène Sargue), and drummer Lauriane (Deila Vogur), all share a passion for music, but there is serious doubt that they will be able to pull themselves together in time for their performance.
At a scant 19 minutes, Polaroid Song is a short film that is both intriguing and frustrating at the same time. Part of the reason for this is that directors Alphonse Giorgi and Yann Tivrier attempt to inject too many story threads into the film. Although Lise is our guide into this world filled with sultry and edgy rock n’ roll energy, the film attempts to give each member of Periodlink their time to shine. As a result, the members of the band are reduced to one-line descriptions. For example, the drummer Lauriane likes Russian Cinema and pastry puffs and Ivy is the talented, but hot tempered one. This is most evident in the latter half when Lauriane and Ivy are each given their own romantic subplots of sorts. Lauriane shyly shares a drink with a guy in his car, but gets called onto stage before she can utter anything of significance. Ivy, in true rock n’roll fashion, gets pleasured backstage just moments before going on. This achieves nothing more than to show she is supposed to be a badass. Given more time these subplots would have worked much better. However, it takes away from the most interesting aspects of the film which include Lise’s relationship with the band and the band members’ relationships with each other. Giorigi and Tivrier try to emphasize that Periodlink’s performance of “Lick It” was an important milestone for the band. They put that moment on par with other iconic events of 1991 such as the gulf war ending and Nirvana “giving birth in a pool.” Unfortunately, that type of weight does not fully come across as the audience does not get a chance to see the many dynamics of the band.
Polaroid Song is at its most engaging when focused on Lise’s time with the band. Similar to Patrick Fugit’s William Miller in Almost Famous, Lise’s coming-of-age tale is closely tied to Periodlink. Like a tour guide, Lise constantly breaks the forth wall in the first half to introduce new characters to the audience. Giacomini is great in the lead as she manages to convey both Lise’s innocence and sexual awakening in a way that feels genuine. Her key scene with Auguste’s Flory feels like a natural progression instead of a formulaic plot device. Speaking of Auguste, she does a great job in the role of Flory. As the leader of Periodlink, Auguste must display Flory’s tough exterior when dealing with her band members as well as her fragile side when encountering a prominent figure in the record industry.
As a short film, Polaroid Song is solid from a visual standpoint, but the story ultimately plays like a series of brief snapshots. This results in the film not having the sense of importance that it is desperately trying to convey. Polaroid Song may have reached the heights it was striving for had Giorigi and Tivrier made it a feature length film. However, in its current form, the film is more of a passable single instead of a truly classic album.
Screening: Thursday June 14th 12:30 pm at the National Film Board (150 John Street)
Full festitval program and ticket information can be found on the North By Northeast (NXNE) Festival website.