Guidelines Screen 6 articles

Guidelines

2014

Guidelines Poster
  • Gimmicky and not particularly edifying, this Canadian documentary considers teen delinquents at a rural Quebec high school and administrators' efforts to discipline them. Director Jean-Francois Caissy cribs most of his stylistic ideas—static long takes, exacting sound design, and a canny use of offscreen space—from Michael Haneke, while his depiction of public school life as inherently dehumanizing feels like a retread of Frederick Wiseman's High School.

  • The rigidity of the school scenes is, I suppose, meant to contrast with the scenes of footloose outdoor idyll, but no real relaxation of the formal strictures is ever evident. Still, there’s enough here to mark Caissy as one to follow: he has an unfailing compositional eye, and a measure of visual wit, mostly evident in observation of improbably elastic young bodies.

  • As the film is devoid of background detail into each of the featured teens, Caissy reveals a lack of interest in a psychological profile of their currently fickle mindset; instead, through an elegant visual style, the filmmaker simply seeks to evoke the feeling of living at such a spirited age.

  • “Guidelines” was filmed in a high school in rural Quebec, but its insights resonate worldwide. More preoccupied with time than place, this deceptively simple documentary by Jean-François Caissy regards the turbulence of adolescence as a negotiation between risk and restraint.

  • It prefers to savor individual moments, and the camera's patient stasis belies the brief runtime. The leisurely takes and the 'scope aspect ratio call attention to DP Nicolas Canniccioni's compositions, which are equally adept at capturing nature or making elegant geometric use of the school's mundane institutional architecture. It's a cinematic representation of high school life without undue moralizing or drama, a highly stylized doc that remains unrepentantly observational.

  • Caissy has now made a firm case for himself as Québec’s leading documentarist... His still shots fixed on the faces of kids—some naughty, some nice—meeting with school counsellors are the kind of image-sound constructs that cinema aspires to, and rarely achieves.