Features

Canada’s Documentary Essentials: ‘Ryan’

Dir. Chris Landreth, 2004

Copper Heart Cut Inc. / National Film Board of Canada


Ryan Larkin created some of the most memorable films in Canadian animation, most notably Walking (1968) and Street Musique (1972). But when Chris Landreth met him in the year 2000, Larkin was homeless in Montreal, spending nights at the Old Brewery Mission and days panhandling outside Schwartz’s deli. In the Oscar-winning Ryan, Landreth and Larkin sit together in a computer-generated cafeteria—whole chunks of their bodies missing, others hanging by threads—as they go over Larkin’s past: his artistic achievements, his loves, his brief moments of recognition. Like a cinematic Francis Bacon portrait, Ryan gives visual, corporeal form to passing mental states and enduring traumas. But, rather than oils and pastels, Landreth employs state-of-the-art computer animation techniques in his attempt at “psychorealism.” The result is a viscerally empathic experience that gives depth and dimension to the film’s documentary core— the interviews around which the film is built and excerpts from Larkin’s brilliant NFB shorts.

Read more POV picks for Canada’s Documentary Essentials

Watch Ryan below:

Ryan , Chris Landreth, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Tyler Prozeniuk is an aspiring film critic and electronic musician based in Montreal. He recently relocated there via Toronto, where he worked as POV’s copy editor and transcriber.

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