When we think of Canada, the first stereotypes that come to mind are certainly the perennial cold, the sympathy and education of its inhabitants and the pride of having nothing to do with the Americans. Stereotypes, in fact, which are totally surpassed by Denis Villeneuve, a director born in 1967, originally from Quebec, who after so much apprenticeship today has established himself as one of the most original and successful filmmakers on the entire cinema scene. In his films we find recurring themes such as the family condition, the moral choices of life and violence, but also strong female protagonists and a highly sought-after aesthetic characterized by a setting in particular that tends to return in his works and contrasts the Canadian tundra, or the desert. From the beginnings at home to the great Hollywood hits, Villeneuve it has ranged between different genres, from drama to thriller, finding critical acclaim in recent years thanks to author science fiction. We have compiled the ranking of all ten films directed by Villeneuve, obviously from worst to best.
10. One 32 août sur terre
Opera before Villeneuve, presented at the 51st Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. The protagonist Simone, after being involved in a serious accident, decides that she wants to have a child with her best friend, who, however, accepts only as long as the conception takes place in a desert. As we have said, the desert is a recurring location throughout the director’s filmography and we can also demonstrate it in this film unknown to most, but which lays the foundations for his poetic narrative.
Two years after the first feature film, that’s it Maelström, the drama of a woman who after having hit a man, tormented by guilt, tries to commit suicide, but will be saved by a mysterious man. The peculiarity of this film is that the story is told by a fish. The moral choice, in this case the renunciation of life, is the fulcrum of this interesting film, which was worth a Villeneuve many prizes at home.
Having landed in Hollywood for several years now, Villeneuve collaborates with the screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, author of a film trilogy based on the modern American frontier, for the creation of Sicario, an action thriller with Emily Blunt And Benicio del Toro as protagonists. A wonderful photography thanks to the Mexican locations and a great sound montage, however, do not completely save a film that at times is confused and incomplete. Our Stefano Sollima, director of Gomorrah And Criminal novel, edited a sequel entitled Soldado.
After a break of almost ten years from the previous one Maelström, Villeneuve return to the big screen with Polytechnique, the only feature in his filmography based on a true story. The film chronicles the 1989 Montreal Polytechnic massacre, where a 25-year-old shot and killed fourteen young women. The staging is refined, thanks to black and white photography, but at the same time glacial and heartbreaking. In only 77 minutes characterized by very few dialogues it is impossible not to be shocked by the violence of that terrible event.
The first film by Villeneuve in US land it is Prisoners, a beautiful classic thriller based on themes such as family drama, violence and inner dilemma. The film is mainly directed by the protagonists Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhall And Paul Dano, all three in a state of grace, and the finale is an unforgettable sequence for all lovers of the genre. The only point against Prisoners is its excessive length: 153 minutes is a bit hard to swallow.
Same year, still a collaboration with Jake Gyllenhall, in this case in Enemy, based on the novel Saramago’s duplicate man. Probably the most particular film of all the filmography of Villeneuve, Enemy it is a grotesque noir that mixes reality and supernatural elements, dealing with the concept of the doppelgänger (double) through a strong critique of relational and family social impositions. A small pearl to be rediscovered, but which we strongly advise against for those suffering from arachnophobia.
Latest effort by the Canadian director, fresh out of the theatrical release, Dunes is definitely the movie of the moment (we talked about it here). The sci-fi epic of Frank Herbert, after so many failed experiments, it finally finds its well-deserved film adaptation. A gigantic work, staged by Villeneuve in a masterly way that with Dunes he consecrates himself as one of the best directors around. Unfortunately we are only talking about the first part, as a second chapter should arrive in the future, and consequently we cannot give a complete judgment on Dunes.
3. The woman who sings
The film that made known Denis Villeneuve in the world. Nominated among the best foreign films at the 2011 Oscars, The woman who sings is a play based on the play Incendies from Wajdi Mouawad. Two twins of Middle Eastern origins, on the death of their mother, receive two letters as a testament to be delivered to a father believed dead and to a brother they did not know existed. The journey of the two brothers goes hand in hand with the flashbacks of their mother’s life, unraveling an ingenious narrative plot that melts with a shocking ending, which is very reminiscent Oldboy from Park Chan-Wook. A masterpiece to be rediscovered.
2. Blade Runner 2049
The consecration of Villeneuve takes place in 2017, with his first real effort of Hercules. Go and touch undisputed cornerstones of the history of cinema, Blade Runner in this case, it is always a huge risk, especially if your manufacturer is the same Ridley Scott. 35 years after the release of one of the milestones of science fiction, Villeneuve performs the miracle of creating a top-notch sequel, with Ryan Gosling as the protagonist and the return of Harrison Ford. The result is a majestic film that is good for the eyes, ears and hearts of all fans. Is long? Yes. Is it slow? Also, but Blade Runner 2049 it’s a genre masterpiece.
On the top step of the podium we find Arrival, 2016 sci-fi film featuring Amy Adams as the protagonist. Eight Oscar nominations and countless other awards for a film that has the great merit of ennobling the science fiction genre to levels never before seen. Too often, in fact, we think of this world only for supernatural elements and various monsters. In Arrival there is so much more. In fact, we find philosophical, physical and linguistic theories that really exist that blend perfectly with the cryptic and nebulous narrative of Villeneuve. An elegant, rigorous and brilliant work in all its aspects.