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ABSENCES (#HotDocs14 Review)

Hot Docs 2014

Directed by Carole Laganière

“I’m scared that one day, you won’t recognize me,” Quebecois director, Carole Laganière, says to her mother as she lies next to her. Over the past couple of years Laganière’s mother has fallen victim to Alzheimer’s. She knows that each day, just as her mother loses parts of her memory, she loses parts of her mother. In ABSENCES, through her own story and the lives of three others, Laganière explores profound cases of loss, and the effects they have on the human psyche. In addition to her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, Laganière weaves together the stories of Deni, an American author tracing his father’s Canadian roots, Ines, a woman journeying to Croatia to reconnect with her mother, and Nathalie, a woman who travels to Toronto to search for her missing sister.


Each of the stories Laganière presents is extremely touching. Her relationship with her mother grounds the film, taking up the largest amount of the films’ seventy-five minute running-time. While the stories do flow very well into one another, viewers may find that they aren’t getting to spend enough time with each of the film’s subjects. This is most felt for Nathalie’s portions of the film. The film jumps into Nathalie’s story as she is about to travel to Toronto, and leaves just as she may finally be getting the help she needs to find her sister. Perhaps a different format could’ve suited the project better, as it seems that Nathalie’s story as well as that of and Laganière’s mother are barely wrapped up. The film’s strongest aspect is certainly its cinematography by Dominic Dorval. Dorval beautifully captures each of the subject’s lives, specifically the beautiful landscapes of Croatia in Ines’ segments.

Though ABSENCES is a bit heavy, each viewer will surely find something in it to relate to. Laganière’s exploration of loss is certainly not something you’ll want to miss.

4 sheep


#HotDocs14 Screenings

04.26, 1:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

05.03, 9:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

Click here for tickets!

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