Regarding Gravity (Qu’importe la gravité)
(Canada, 79 min.)
Dir. Matthieu Brouillard
There are moments that make people feel like they can fly. These episodes are sometimes called sparks of inspiration. In other cases, they might be known as manic episodes. Either way, people aren’t alone if they sometimes wish they could be like Superman and fly high above the sky.
In Regarding Gravity, director Matthieu Brouillard meets two subjects whose shared dream to touch the sky is more than a passing fancy. 63-year-old Christian has visual impairment due to a rare genetic condition while his 71-year-old friend Bruce is deaf and bipolar. Their conditions are perhaps irrelevant to their ambitions, but Brouillard presents these factors as acutely linked as the men work towards defying gravity and the limited expectations society places on people with physical and/or mental disabilities.
The doc, much like this year’s amusing (and stronger) Hot Docs oddity Omni: An Act of Gravity, sees the friends spreading their wings in ramshackle contraptions. Christian loves to paraglide and Regarding Gravity offers a handful of suspenseful moments as he careens through the air with GoPro camera footage capturing his in-flight action. In between the flights of fancy are elongated verité-style observations of the friends at home as they live out their everyday routines and converse over drinks in the yard. These never-ending scenes are much harder to watch than the nausea-inducing flights are. They will test the patience of many viewers and prove difficult for some.
Brouillard seems to have a knack for capturing the subjects at some especially low moments, particularly Bruce. While the director’s bold ability to keep rolling provides a frank depiction of mental illness, the portrait becomes increasingly uncomfortable as the camera seems to be a negative influence. Bruce is easily excitable, especially when he’s drinking, and the many rants we see in the film seem to cause him considerable pain. His stream of consciousness tangents lend some poetic notes to the film, which Brouillard exploits with varying degrees of success.
For all the difficulty of the film, however, the director’s background in photography ensures Regarding Gravity ends on a high note. It finds some much-needed levity, for Christian at least, as he soars through the mist, flying high and defying his skeptics.
Regarding Gravity screens in Toronto at Rendezvous with Madness on Oct. 17 at 9:00 PM
Director Matthieu Brouillard will be in attendance for a Q&A.