Boy meets girl, they fall in love. A concept older than any medium of storytelling, with hundreds and thousands of books and films that rely on this premise.
The Quebecois filmmaker Pascal Plante is one of many who told this story in his feature film debut that has already been shown at several film festivals between Buenos Aires and Edinburgh.
Les faux tatouages tells the story of the hardcore punk fans Théo and Mag who live in Montréal and meet after a punk rock show on Théo's 18th birthday. After discussing some music they go to her place and have sex which is only the beginning of a love story whose ending seems already predestined.
The premise is one that we've seen a good number of times before, so it's the delivery that counts. And this film delivers on many different levels. This starts in the first scene which has stunning visuals and sound design, and it sets the standard for the rest of the film.
It is not only a love story but at the same time a film about music, and the music in the film, mostly by Canadian musicians, works in every scene, sometimes aggressive, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful. The film is a special treat for all fans of punk rock because they will not only know what Théo and Mag are talking about when they first meet, they will also recognise the band shirts Théo is wearing and the vinyl covers on Mag's wall, from Patti Smith over The Clash to The Pixies.
The love story itself is very simple. The way glances and touches say more than thousand words, just like opposed to that, the silly talk that only people can understand who have been helplessly in love before. Both elements are there and in its authenticity the film reminds of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise, one scene in particular when Mag is playing a song on her guitar for him and all the emotions are in the way he looks at her during the song.
The characters in Fake Tattoos have a past, and they have a future too, together or not, but this film takes place in the NOW. While it's obvious that there's darkness in Théo's character and in his past it is never really revealed, even though the film gives some hints about what might have happened.
It's not relevant, what matters is the brief relationship that the film focuses on, a relationship that isn't called by its name and gets an expiry date in the beginning.
The film is deeply melancholic and optimistic at the same time. It feels very personal and Pascal Plante shows a lot of love - not only for his characters but also for music, punk rock in particular.
Both Anthony Therrien and Rose-Marie Perreault give great performances and the beautiful script, the camera work and the sound design contribute their part to form one the most genuinely lovely films of this decade. Every punk rock fan, or every fan of little indie love stories should watch this if they get the chance (hopefully this film will get a decent release). The only thing that could be criticised is that the film might sometimes be a bit too self-indulgent in portraying the romance of Théo and Mag but everybody with feelings should be at least slightly moved by that anyway.