• James Rutherford

'Polytechnique': A Harrowing and Contemplative Depiction of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre


Movie poster for the 2009 Canadian film Polytechnique

Polytechnique (2009) is a harrowing Canadian drama that assiduously re-enacts the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre in Montréal, Québec. Shot in stark black and white, the storyline follows a teenage engineering student (Maxim Gaudette) as he prepares for and instigates a deadly shooting in the halls of his polytechnic school.


Opening as a hail of spasmodic trajectiles stuns unsuspecting students, the narrative shifts to that morning as the detached killer prepares for his onslaught. Narrating his manifesto, he describes his hatred for feminists and desire to enact revenge upon them for his own failures in life. Entering school, he begins to single out females after allowing males to escape—promptly opening fire remorselessly. A male student named Jean-François (Sébastien Huberdeau) attempts to intervene yet is left guilt-ridden for his inability to deter the massacre.


Co-written and directed by celebrated Québécois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Blade Runner 2049), Polytechnique is a palpable examination of alienation and ruination. Villeneuve chronicles the incident with a conscientious hand, carefully avoiding exploitation in his thoughtful presentation of the events that occurred. Contemplative and purposely unsettling, it's a visceral depiction of the dangers of irrational prejudice and unbridled misogyny.

 

Watch the trailer: