Review: The Twentieth Century
Matthew Rankin's debut is a fever dream of puffin cream, ejaculating cacti, shoe fetishes, and political aspirations. It hardly feels like a debut, rather a film that Rankin must have been dreaming up for years. A feast for the eyes, this loony comedy is unlike anything you will see this year. It mixes Guy Madden's take on Canada with the formalism of Wes Anderson and the absurdity of Monty Python.
In this oddball film, Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne) is being groomed to be the prime minister of Canada by his overbearing, shut-in mother (Louis Negin). King is based on the 10th prime minister of Canada. He faces major obstacles on his way to the top. The competition for candidacy includes clubbing baby seals, leg wrestling, and log sniffing. He also has to impress a fascist leader Lord Muto (Seán Cullen), teasing from other candidates, and his own sexual repression and fetishes. Included in his mother's visions of him being prime minister is the love of his life Ruby (Catherine Saint-Laurent) who is Lord Muto's daughter.
While this may sound like a bit of a history lesson, The Twentieth Century never feels like it. There is a constant absurd sense of Canada that Rankin rings for big laughs. There is also the incredible set design that pulls from German Expressionism. Influenced by the silent-movie era, the film is a unique mixture of influences. The film is also shot on 16mm film stock to give it an aged look. The film's humor and absurd plot may not be for everyone but no one can deny the singular visual language that Rankin uses.