Loosely inspired by the prime minister’s diaries, Matthew Rankin’s portrayal of Mackenzie King is of an immature, sexually repressed young politician who resorts to many ploys and sacrifices his love life to become the leader of Canada. Rankin uses absurd humour, animated sequences and enormous set designs influenced by German Expressionism to criticise a supposedly democratic system that values popularity and nationalistic pride over experience and competencies.
Comparisons with Guy Maddin are inevitable as Rankin’s feature film debut shares a lot of similarities with Maddin’s whole filmography. And I mean, a lot: same stars (Louis Negin), same mock-vintage style, same characters tormented by their sexual obsessions. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing. But unlike subpar filmmakers that blatantly try to imitate Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson or David Lynch and fail, Rankin has made an assuring first film, full of insane ideas.
Guy Maddin would be proud. Matthew Rankin should be proud. William Lyon Mackenzie King is probably rolling in his grave.
Art House Street