(In French, On TV, December 2018) Michel Côté is once more back in the saddle playing four different characters in Cruising Bar 2, a sequel to the massively successful 1989 film that feel more money-driven than anything else, even though it does provide something like closure to the events of the first film. Again, the film clearly belongs to Côté, as he plays four very different characters all dealing with their own kind of relationship issues. No one else in the supporting cast comes close to making as clear an impression. Nearly twenty years after the events of the first film, the humiliation comedy once again annoyingly reigns supreme as the four characters haven’t evolved a lot. The subplots are far more scattered than the single-night-at-the-nightclub focus of the original, which may explain why the film doesn’t feel as satisfying. On the other hand, it does leave the characters with some closure, as painful as it can be for some and as comfortable as it can be for others. Cruising Bar 2 is… OK, but it’s definitely best watched as a coda to the first film.
(In French, On TV, December 2018) The first Cruising Bar movie was a minor French-Canadian classic back in the 1990s—nearly everyone had seen it, and the film was a hit with many kinds of viewers, earning spectacular box-office results. It’s easy to see why, as French-Canadian big-screen legend Michel Côté (who also co-wrote the film) plays four very different characters all out for a night on the town. He sells all of them, from the nerdy bespectacled “Earthworm” to the drug-addled mullet-wearing “Lion” to the libidinous hairy “Stallion” to the sophisticated snobbish “Peacock”. They all have their own style, and the comedy that goes with it … although you have to be ready for some heavy doses of humiliation comedy in order to appreciate the result. Côté is nothing short of terrific in the four roles, and the film certainly depends on him. Among the supporting players, Louise Marleau looks spectacular as “The Divine”—the ultimate object of desire. Despite this being a comedy and going for a lot of laughs, Cruising Bar in itself is far more sombre than you’d expect—few of the characters get what they want, and the film’s overall take on bar-hopping is nothing short of soul-crushing. It does have its funny moments, though, even if the caricatures can be wearing and the film quickly shows where it’s going. Writer/director Robert Ménard knows what he’s doing, and the result has acquired a nice period patina over the past thirty years.