Some stoners are actually sensitive kids. Believe it or not, it is not impossible for them to fall in love, under the right circumstances. This is even true in French Canada. When Théo meets Mag (short for Marguerite), the timing is either utterly awful or absolutely perfect. Regardless, their rapport develops at warp speed in Pascal Plante’s Fake Tattoos (trailer here), which screens during the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City.
Initially, Mag and Théo meet awkwardly rather than cutely after a hardcore gig. She starts busting on him for sporting a temporary tattoo, but then admits his artistry with eye-liner is quite impressive. Aside from some comical guilty pleasures, they mostly have the same taste in music. They are also unhappy outsiders, so a bond quickly forms. Even a ragingly uncomfortable morning after cannot derail their mutual attraction. However, their affair must presumably be finite, because Théo’s mother is relocating them in two weeks, from Montreal to his grown sister’s provincial digs.
Tattoos is sort of like a grungy, slacker teen Éric Rohmer movie, mostly in the best ways. Plante takes time to develop his primary characters and gives them scrupulously realistic but consistently meaningful dialogue to chew on. Plante recreates the same breathlessly intimate vibe and uses music to devastating effect, but as is sometimes the case with some works from the master of the Seasons and the Moral Tales, it is debatable whether Tattoos adds up to much when it is all said and done.
Still, Anthony Therrien and Rose-Marie Perreault rather brilliantly keep us focused on the present moment, every second of the way. They are utterly unaffected and completely believable as the young nearly-lovers, but it would be a disservice to suggest they are just playing themselves. Most eighteen or nineteen-year-olds lack this kind of emotional maturity. Their chemistry is also quite real and potent.
On some level, most folks will easily identify with this tale of underdog outsider romance. It is a small film, but it gets its hooks into viewers, evoking memories of summer love and missed opportunities. Recommended as a nice sleeper, Fake Tattoos screens again this Thursday (1/25), as part of this year’s Slamdance.