My Winnipeg (*****)
Both departure and summa, My Winnipeg is Maddin’s funniest and most Canadian film to date, a tribute to the hometown that has inspired and irritated him—in more or less equal measure—since he began making movies. A documentary of sorts, but primarily of the reality that is Maddin’s mind, the film has a ludicrous through line: the director (or his surrogate, actor Darcy Fehr, who also played “Guy Maddin” in Cowards Bend the Knee) rides a nighttime train, desperately trying to escape the city and its ghosts—and his mother, “a force as strong as all the trains in Winnipeg.”
But how do you escape the metropolis whose very existence you have done so much to poeticize? Maddin’s Winnipeg is not one that many see—a romantic, magical burg in the geographic centre of North America; the coldest city in the world; a supernatural place with secret lanes that have never existed on maps, and other streets named after brothel madams. But it’s also the city that abandoned and then destroyed Maddin’s beloved Winnipeg Hockey Arena—in recounting this, the director’s voice rises with the same ire he uses in describing Mom’s passive-aggressive manipulations. A movie like no other and an absolute delight.
My Winnipeg is now playing at the Varsity (55 Bloor St. W.).”