MENORCA (John Barnard). 81 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (April 21). See listing. Rating: NN
With the return of Twin Peaks just around the corner and nostalgia for 90s culture at an all-time high, this might be exactly the right time for a movie like Menorca, which feels like something left over from the glory days of straight-to-VHS thrillers with sexy cover art and questionable indie cred.
The first feature from documentarian and TV director John Barnard (The Sheepdogs Have At It), Menorca stars Tammy Gillis as Claire, a restless Manitoba soccer mom whose impulsive behaviour has alienated her husband and son. She drinks, she cheats, she hates everyone around her; she’s introduced having unfulfilling sex with two men while her family is out for the afternoon.
Eventually, Claire succeeds in alienating everyone around her. With nothing left to lose, she steals a minivan and sets off for parts unknown, eventually landing at a remote strip club patronized entirely by weird old men. And then things get even more Lynchian.
I don’t want to oversell this. Menorca never really works. Barnard’s script is a strange, fluid construction of ideas past their sell-by date, animated by characters who remain frustratingly underdeveloped. This is probably a good time to mention that most of the 90s culture on which Menorca riffs wasn’t all that great either.
Still, Gillis keeps you watching, investing her unmoored character with flashes of frustration and regret that give Menorca an emotional gravity it might otherwise have lacked. The movie’s not good, but she’s pretty great.