The population of a remote Quebec town is greatly affected by the death of a young man in Ghost Town Anthology. The remote village Irénée-les-Neiges, with a population of only 215, is left shaken by the death of a young man named Simon Dubé in a car accident. While Simon’s brother Jimmy (Robert Naylor) and mother Gisèle (Josée Deschênes) try to come to terms about he tied, his father Romuald (Jean-Michel Anctil). Meanwhile, the rest of the town try to cope with the tragedy in their own way, all while noticing the arrival of mysterious strangers.
Ghost Town Anthology is the latest film from Quebecois filmmaker Denis Côté (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear). The story follows the population of a town in rural Quebec, which is trying to return to normal, following a tragic death. In addition to the young man’s family, Ghost Town Anthology follows the actions of introverted woman Adèle (Larissa Corriveau), older couple Louise (Jocelyne Zucco) and Richard (Normand Carrière), and the town’s mayor Simone Smallwood (Diane Lavallée), among others. The life in Irénée-les-Neiges is further disrupted by the arrival of mysterious strangers, particularly a group of kids wearing masks.
Ghost Town Anthology is somewhat surreal drama loosely adapted from the novel “Répertoire des villes disparues” by Laurence Olivier (no relation to the actor). Despite the title, Ghost Town Anthology tells a singular story, even though the perspective switches between the various members of this small town. Ultimately, the film can be described as being about coping with grief, as well as being an allegory for the slow decay of the countryside and how villages around Quebec are turning into ghost towns.
Despite having a relatively brief 97 minute running time, I do have to admit that Ghost Town Anthology does suffer somewhat from slow pacing. That said, my interest did perk up during the second half of the film, as Denis Côté moves the plot into surreal fantasy and even adds a dash of horror. Under all of this is a social commentary about a close-knit community adamant about caring for their own, even if it means their slow descent into obscurity, as shown in a scene where the mayor doesn’t want outside help in helping the town cope with the recent tragedy.
In the end I would say that Ghost Town Anthology is a film that’s not without its issues, but still gives some interesting commentary about how life in the countryside is slowly dying.
Ghost Town Anthology opens on Friday, March 15, 2019 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox