Nu is a sexual nightmare, finding yourself not as alone as you thought. Olivier Labonté Lamoyne’s film leaves itself open for interpretation to marvellous effect – a great horror short about vulnerability.
An ordinary young couple finds an isolated place to park their car and love each other away from prying eyes. At least, that’s what they believe. Deep in the forest, their intimacy will be the scene of an unsettling encounter between sensuality and horror.
Lovers’ Lane or a wooded area; lots of us have been there in the back of a car trying to have some fun at night with your partner. For Will and Cath, their attempt at an intimate rendezvous to spice up their relationship takes a dramatic turn in Olivier Labonté Lamoyne’s Nu (Nude). Here, we begin with lightness; both merely want some fun, and you enjoy their interactions. But, as with all tales of people going into an isolated place for sex, there is nothing out there but regrets, death or creepy naked people watching you.
While the film doesn’t overly try to explain its reasoning behind everything that we see, there is a lot to enjoy here in Nu, be it the great chemistry between Étienne Galloy and Roxane Tremblay-Marcotte or how wonderfully stylish the film looks thanks to the work of cinematographer Maxime Valsan. As soon as we get into the darkness of that forest, the mood changes. With the car positioned in a place so open, you become acutely aware of how alone the duo are.
With Galloy’s Will and Tremblay-Marcotte’s Cath, there is a definite sexual power dynamic between the two. Cath is confident and more open with her inhibitions, leading the way in the relationship. On the other hand, Will is more timid, wanting to find the most private spots for their bit of fun. Cath doesn’t care; she just wants to get on with it, and these moments show us how well both actors have nailed their characters. We can clearly see the dynamic between the two, and as a plus, they bounce off one another exceptionally well.
When the first incident almost ends their night early, it is, in fact, Will taking hold of the situation, being assured that it entices Cath back into continuing where they left off. Both performances are great for how believable they are. It feels natural, so when the film turns more ominous, our worries for the couple have been well-earned.
Nu is a short film that finds that outstanding balance between comedy and horror; the characters are light, and it isn’t until the rug is pulled out from under us with the great atmosphere that Labonté Lamoyne builds up in his film that we realise what we are watching. We are suddenly uncomfortable with our character’s naked vulnerability. It was an inspired choice to have those who come out of the forest also be presented as vulnerable. Raising questions, Nu has no interest in answering for us.
Are these real people coming to watch and take part? Are they ghosts of some spirit that has captured like-minded people who have stopped here? I am going with the idea that they are visions of Will’s insecurities come to life. Even though he has tried to take charge of these erotic moments with Cath, he is still unsure. As such, it is not until the film’s end that he becomes finally comfortable with his nudity, away from the security of the care and open for whatever comes next.
Of course, this could all be wrong, but a film that allows you to take what you want from it in a narrative sense gives us that wonderful freedom. Nu could have done with a bit more of an explanation. But, with the help of the striking visuals, especially those hill shots, that fantastic final shot, and the strong performances of our two actors, Nu becomes a great watch that leaves you wanting more.
The Fantasia International Film Festival takes place in Montreal from July 20th through August 9th.
For more of our coverage of Fantasia 2023, please see below:
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