Québécois filmmaker Denis Côté’s Boris Without Béatrice is the mash-up of Dickens and Bergman you didn't know you needed. Russian-Canadian industrialist Boris Malinovsky (James Hyndman) is tall, bald, and intimidating. In the opening sequence of Côté’s morality tale, Boris stares down an approaching helicopter while blades of grass dance around him. In Côté’s hands, the man seems more formidable than the machine, but looks can be deceiving. While he's out with his mistress, Boris's wife, Béatrice (Simone-Élise Girard), wages war against a catatonic form of depression. A Pre-Raphaelite redhead named Klara (Isolda Dychauk), roughly the same age as his daughter, looks after her.
Boris is rich, entitled, and his neighbors hate him. And why shouldn't they? He’s a dick. Things take a turn for the weird when he meets a mystery man (the incomparable Denis Lavant) who provides the solution to Béatrice’s problem. What follows is a seemingly simplistic take on depression, i.e. Boris needs to check his privilege in order for Béatrice to get better, except her condition seems more symbolic of their marriage. If it doesn't cohere as neatly as Curling and Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, Côté's eye for an inventive composition remains finely tuned, and Hyndman, who recalls Mark Strong by way of Tom Noonan, is a compelling presence. When he sighs, "I don't want to be alone against the fucking world," you know that Béatrice just might have a fighting chance.