Fantastic Fest Review: VIC + FLO SAW A BEAR Has One Stunner Of An Ending

This French-Canadian lesbian drama goes for the unexpected.

If you were to only watch the first 40 minutes of Vic + Flow Saw A Bear and then have someone describe to you the ending of the film, you’d assume they were putting you on. It isn’t so much that Vic + Flo has a twist ending - it builds up to its ending fairly - but rather that it goes places you would never expect it to go. It gets much stranger than its opening act would ever lead you to believe.

Vic and Flo are ex-cons and lovers. Victoria (Pierette Robitaille) is newly released from prison and she moves into a house whose only occupant is her vegetative uncle. Flo (Romane Bohringer), who has been out for some time, moves in with her. As they try to settle into their new lives secluded deep in the countryside problems begin to arise. The caretaker of the uncle hates them, Vic’s probation officer won’t leave them alone, and there’s a too-helpful woman in the neighborhood who is taking a big interest in just what the couple is up to. On top of that Flo isn’t even sure she’s happy; Vic is older than her and Flo wants a life with more excitement.

To say more would be to give away the sublime and strange way that Denis Côté slowly sweeps your legs out from under you. Thanks to the naturalistic, sensitive central performances (especially Bohringer, who is so sultry and troubled that she constantly drove me wild) Vic + Flo would work simply as a drama about these two women, but Côté’s vision is so disturbing - yet sort of uplifting? - that I love where he dares to go.

Don’t try to solve the ending from this review. I actually feel bad bringing it up, because this isn’t a puzzle movie. It’s just a movie that doesn’t feel the need to be predictable, to pay off its set-up in a way that you would ever expect. It’s often lovely and well-observed and in the end it is so unique as to be absolutely stunning.