TIFF 2015: Endorphine

Endorphine

The latest film by celebrated filmmaker André Turpin, whose is best known for his cinematography work on films such as Mommy, Incendies, and Maelström, has been described as a “cinematic puzzle.” This is only true in the sense that its pieces are scattered about on the floor, but the film has no intension of forming a cohesive image. Endorphine is more akin to a cinematic dream, it flows freely providing images and meanings that always seem just out of reach. Turpin’s film is meant to wash over the audience. It is to be experienced, not solved.

The layered narrative involves three separate storylines that all manage to intersect with one another in strange and mysterious ways. There is the story of twelve-year-old Simone (perfectly played by Sophie Nélisse), whose coming-of-age is greatly impacted when she witnesses the brutal death of her mother. Turpin also introduces the audience to twenty-something Simone (Mylène Mackay), a performance artist who is obsessed with her female neighbour and endures panic attacks while working as a parking lot attendant. Lastly there is the sixty-year-old physicist, named Simone (Lise Roy) of course, who give a lecture on the nature of time.

In many ways this is about as straightforward as one can get with Endorphine. Similar to most people’s dreams, the film flows in several directions presenting vivid images whose contexts are not always clear. Lynchian in tone, Turpin takes viewers down the rabbit hole of the unconscious state without a life line. There is some intriguing discussion about the metaphysical nature of time, especially in relation to cinema, but the threads hang loosely from the film’s patched together shawl. At the end of the day all Endorphine is concerned with is evoking a dream state, a blurring of lines that may or may not be there in the first place. It is never clear whether the dream is in fact a nightmare or something else entirely. Is it art? Is it indulgence? Is it attempting to say something meaningful? The answers to these questions will vary based on the viewer.