Death of a Ladies’ Man by Matt Bissonnette [8/10]

Death of a Ladies ‘Man” follows on the heels of the much more prestigious release, The Father (graced by Anthony Hopkins among others), which also attempted to portray in film the state of mental collapse of dementia. The Father messed willy-nilly with time. Death of a Ladies Man messes with hallucinations, and is, in my opinion, a much more profound movie. It is also decidedly quirky, with writer/director Matt Bissonnette framing the narrative around Leonard Cohen songs and splashing around garish strange visions. Gabriel Byrne plays a professor beginning to reap the impacts of a lifetime of boozing and philandering, and he suits the movie’s mood and themes perfectly, being world weary and ironic and self-deceitful, but also questing for closure, forgiveness, redemption … the eternal life questions. An ensemble cast revolves around Byrne; notable are Brian Gleeson as the apparition of our hero’s long deceased father and Karelle Tremblay as his foul-mouthed but desperately loving daughter. Fantastical set pieces abound—ice hockey players dancing, a weird band interjecting, an AA meeting turned into a joyous anthem— and, weirdly, fit perfectly. The first third of the film flirts with tedium but once an attentive viewer gathers up the vibe, the final pre-death scenes (none of them formulaic) strike with a hammer of revelation and grief. An unanticipated triumph, is Death of a Ladie’s Man.

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