Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century may be one of the strangest historical satires about Canada that one will ever see in theaters.
This film is not going to make any sense to people who are unfamiliar with Canada’s political history. Take it from this American. My initial reaction following the film basically comes down to this: I don’t know what to make of what I just saw. This is certainly a satire that plays better for those familiar with the history. Otherwise, you’ll probably be just as confused as me. I do not mean this in a bad way but rather in a “Did this actually happen?!?” kind of way.
William Lyon Mackenzie King (Daniel Beirne) holds the current record for most years served in office as Prime Minister. Looking over his Wikipedia page, Rankin exaggerates some parts of his life. King’s relationship with Bert Harper (Mikhaïl Ahooja) is a lot closer than the film would have you believe. Again, what happened in actual history isn’t all that important in terms of the film. If it were, elections would be decided by competitions in ribbon cutting, leg wrestling, cutting the line, etc.
Visually speaking, the film is certainly an achievement for the first-time feature filmmaker. There’s a grainy palette that lends the film a period feel. The film is presented in 4:3, which also helps the feel of the film, too. Of all the choices, I do have to question the casting of a cisgender man as a cisgender woman. Whether or not Lady Violet is real, I don’t know.
The Twentieth Century is a solid first feature for director Matthew Rankin and will play best for midnight audiences.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Matthew Rankin
CAST: Daniel Beirne, Sarianne Cormier, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Catherine St-Laurent, Sean Cullen, Trevor Anderson