A mockumentary (or actually more of a docu-drama) that takes a fascinating look at the art world and celebrity, "Missing Victor Pellerin" takes a look at the rise and sudden disappearance of popular Montreal-based artist Victor Pellerin years ago. In 1990, Pellerin was the darling of the Montreal art scene, only to suddenly burn his work and vanish without a trace.
Documentary filmmaker Sophie Deraspe set out to meet with some of the people that knew Pellerin throughout the years, including art dealers (such as art dealer Eric Devlin, the first buyer of Pellerin's work and gallery owner Olga Korper), fellow painters, friends and more.
Throughout the interviews in the early going, we get a sense of an eccentric, yet popular artist who went against the conventions of the scene and gained a wide acclaim. Pellerin was a likable, outgoing self-promoter that managed to remain high-profile and yet was able to remain something of an enigma. In New York, Pellerin paintings were fetching 50,000 dollars, while Korper was lining up investors for Pellerin paintings that did not yet exist, which dismayed him.
Throughout the interviews though, little bits of Pellerin's mystery start to reveal themselves, starting with the fact that Victor Pellerin wasn't his real name, it was Luc. His mother considers her son no longer of this world, as he doesn't write or call and seems to have vanished into thin air. Others reveal that Pellerin had tried forgery on the side (he would work as a janitor in office buildings, photograph paintings, create a forgery and switch the painting) while he was creating his own stellar works. He faced a family history of depression and instability.
"Missing Victor Pellerin" combines real people from the art world with a story of an artist who may or may not be real, we're never sure, and our opinion of who Victor may or may not have been changes with each interview and with each passing moment, as the interviews bring up both happy memories as well as sadness and anger. One minute we're hearing about Victor's accomplishments and the next we are hearing about his darker moments. It's difficult to call this a mockumentary because it is unlike the mockumentaries that Christopher Guest does; the real-life figures here play things 110% straight - there's no indication that Victor Pellerin wasn't real, but the mystery behind who he was grows with every passing moment of the picture.
Gorgeously filmed in a simple but elegant style that shows an eye for detail and composition, first-time director Deraspe has created a haunting film that, fictional or otherwise, remained engaging until the end.
VIDEO: Atopia presents "Missing Victor Pellerin" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Aside from a few minor issues, this is largely an excellent transfer of the material. Sharpness and detail are quite good, save for some slightly softer wide shots on occasion. No edge enhancement or artifacting were spotted, and the elements appeared clean. Colors looked a tad subdued, but appeared natural and accurate, given the locations.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation (French, with English subtitles) is, as one would expect, documentary-style audio, with not much activity beyond dialogue and the film's pleasant score. Audio quality seemed quite fine, with dialogue that remained clear and undistorted.
EXTRAS: 2 audio commentaries are included, with two different sets of folks involved with the movie. Unfortunately, one of these commentaries is in French and not subtitled, so if you don't speak French, it's not going to be very informative. The English commentary is from director Sophie Deraspe, exec producer Douglas Bensadoun, artist Sylvain Bouthilette, art dealer Antonin Sorel and South American production-manager Florisabel Fernandez. The French track offers Deraspe, art dealer Eric Devlin, Bouthilette, artist Anne Lebeau, artist Shiela Riberio, artist Plastik Patrik, Pellerin's sister Elisabeth Legrand and Sorel.
We also get 6 deleted scenes (no subtitles), the trailer, an early trailer (French) and more trailers for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "Missing Victor Pellerin" is a fascinating and mysterious documentary that takes a look into fame and the art world. It's an unique film and an impressive, confident one coming from a director making their debut. The DVD offers a nice set of bonus features (although some are in French) and fine audio/video quality. Recommended.
The Film B+