François Delisle’s sophomore film, Chorus, examines the painful grief of losing a child. Ten years after their son Hugo went missing, Christophe (Sébastien Ricard) and Irene (Fanny Mallette) are reunited when an already imprisoned man confesses to the murder. Shot in black and white, the film utilizes the grayscale to suggest how they’ve both stagnated in the pain of the past. Almost violently textured, the film evokes the works of Ingmar Bergman as it contrasts the spiritual qualities of the mind and the body. Faces, body parts and essentially a religious chorus became central motifs within the film. The redemptive qualities of music in particular sustain Irene through life, while Christophe finds solace in the ocean as he escaped Montreal to live in Mexico. As Irene confesses to abstinence since the death of her son, Christophe has found comfort in sensation, as he makes passionate love with an anonymous woman, losing himself to his body as he attempts to escape his mind.
Grief is quite clearly the central theme of Chorus, and the film portrays two people gripped with guilt, anger and sadness at the loss of their child. Loneliness and isolation pervade the universe of the film, the characters drifting and barely connecting with the world around them. Silence becomes central, as conversations are unable to flow comfortably, haunted by pregnant pauses and drifting attentions. Even the murderer’s confession, which opens the film, is imbued with a disconnected cadence, as for the first time the man comes to terms that it was his body, and his mind that killed a child. Facing his culpability, he also loses himself. He too is living in a world without color.
However, beneath the surface there remains love. Like many couples who drift apart, Irene and Christophe did not split because they no longer love each other, but rather due to external forces. Reunited for the first time in ten years, there is an initial period of apprehension, as neither party is willing to take responsibility for the silence that has grown between them. Slowly though, they begin to open up to the love that never quite left, but is now forever tainted by insurmountable loss. Their reunion is difficult, as both members search for hope that could have been: “If I had come with you to Mexico, we could have kept Hugo alive with our love” and “I can still imagine myself having a child with Irene, but we had our child.” These drifting, sometimes repeating, internal monologues serve as a glimpse into the thoughts of our characters, and the contradictions that will keep them apart.
Chorus is a film about surviving, and how painful loss often pushes us into self-imposed isolation. As both Christophe and Irene deal with their pain in different ways, they are united by a shared desire to fade away as they no longer can stand the idea of taking responsibility for someone else, yet what brings them together is also what makes it impossible for them to be reunited. As their loss has become a defining point of their identity, so does their isolation. They may still be capable of love, but love no longer has the power to sustain their survival.
Justine Smith lives and writes in Montreal, Quebec. She has a bachelor’s degree in Film Studies, and a passionate hunger for all kinds of cinema. Along with writing for Vague Visages, she is the film editor of Sound on Sight and a freelance writer.
Follow Justine on Twitter @redroomrantings.