[Calgary Underground Film Festival] Fake Tattoos (2017) - Reviewed

Fake Tattoos screened at CUFF

Making its Alberta premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival is the touching and raw teenage love story Fake Tattoos AKA Les Faux Tatouages, the first feature from Québécois filmmaker Pascal Plante. Combining love and music, the film is reminiscent of the films such as Once, the Before trilogy, and Nuit #1. With its realistic story and dialogue, use of continuous takes and minimalist camera work, and excellent performances from Anthony Therrien and Rose-Marie Perreault, Fake Tattoos delivers a beautiful and eloquent take on young love.

Punk rocker Theo (Anthony Therrien) spends his eighteenth birthday alone, drinking in an alley before attending a metal concert. After the show, he meets Mag (Rose-Marie Perreault), a mesmerizing and upbeat young punk who invites Theo to spend the night with her. While Theo deals with his painful past, the two end up falling in love. Their relationship and love story is bittersweet, however, as they come to acknowledge the fact that their love is meant to be nothing more than just Summer love. The film was written, directed, and edited by Plante and it’s clear that this story is either very personal to him or he is well versed in creating realistic characters and situations. It shouldn't be surprising to learn that one of his recent directorial projects was the documentary La Génération Porn, as this film has a grounded, documentary style to it. The dialogue is fresh and feels authentic and Theo and Mag are thoroughly developed and well-fleshed out. Both characters feel real and relatable to the audience.

The directing from Plante is outstanding. He not only gets the best possible performances out of his actors, but he presents the story and characters in a way that enhances their authenticity. Opting for a documentary or cinéma vérité approach to the camera work, with continuous takes and rarely any cutaways, the viewer feels as if they are a voyeur witnessing events as they unfold. This simple, minimalistic approach to the filmmaking actually lends to some incredible scenes, most notably ones in which they do one continuous take for around eight to ten minutes. Rarely do you see that done in a film, and it’s the perfect approach in this instance. Music is also used sparingly, but it’s the powerful soundtrack selections used in certain scenes that add an extra layer of depth and intimacy. 

The performances from Therrien and Perreault are outstanding. Both of their characters gradually grow as the film progresses and we start to learn more about each of them. There is a certain level of angst and pain that Theo is harboring and hiding, giving him an air of mystery as he slowly opens up to Mag. He appears withdrawn and somewhat shy, allowing Mag’s vibrant and cheery demeanor to break down whatever walls that he has built up. Mag is an enchanting soul who is far more layered than you typically expect to see in a teen drama. Both characters possess an authenticity that is not too often present in movies about teens and romance.

Fake Tattoos is not to be missed and it may very well be the best indie film to come out of Canada this year. With its strong and realistic story and heartfelt performances from its leads, Fake Tattoos is a moving and remarkable piece of cinema that takes you on an emotional journey of teenage love and music.

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-Raul Vantassle