An Eye for Beauty
Directed by Denys Arcand
Released April 15, 2016
For some reason, architects seem to make great film subjects. They possess an artistic vision that is readily apparent from the visual structures that they create and often show onscreen. It’s not necessarily a given that their lives would be just as interesting as they way they visualize and create, but in both documentary and narrative films, that has proven to be the case. The projects that Quebecan architect Luc (Éric Bruneau) is working on are certainly intriguing, but not quite as much as his personal life.
Luc is happily married to Stéphanie (Mélanie Thierry), though it is clear to him that her thoughts are elsewhere, a fact confirmed when he spots her kissing the spouse of their good friend Isabelle (Marie-Josée Croze). By the time this occurs, however, Luc is already in a different world, as the allure of an assistant named Lindsay (Melanie Merkosky) whom he meets in Toronto on business distracts him entirely from his seemingly perfect life. As he notices Stéphanie drifting away, Luc is entirely consumed by the thought of seeing Lindsay again, and their moments shared together in Toronto are dreamlike and hypnotic.
From this description, Luc might seem like a despicable person, unable to deal with his wife’s unhappiness and invested simultaneously in an escape from the marriage. Yet Luc is a relatively charming protagonist who doesn’t appear to possess any traits of maliciousness or cruelty. The entire film is pervaded by a sense of calm and an appreciation for the beauty of Canada. One particularly stirring and serene scene finds Luc and Lindsay biking through the streets of Toronto, completely invested in the mood of the moment.
This film takes a number of unexpected turns and it evolves from a light-hearted drama about an affair into a larger ensemble piece in which every character plays an important part. As Luc, Bruneau is endearing and likeable, an affable lead who is easy to connect to as the center of the story. Both Thierry and Merkosky give strong supporting performances as the two women in Luc’s life. Croze, who was a memorable part of “Tell No One” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” contributes as well as Isabelle, Luc’s friend and confidante who also happens to be his closest doctor friend. The film ends with a montage of the works that Luc has created, a fitting ode to the involving and entrancing story this film tells.