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Polytechnique (2009)



Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 1,519

My Rating

Movie Info

Inspired by the tragic school shooting that took place at Montreal's Polytechnique school on December 6, 1989, director Denis Villeneuve's melancholy docudrama portrays the events as seen from the perspective of two students, Valérie (Karine Vanasse) and Jean-François (Sebastien Huberdeau). When an armed madman enters the school with the intention of killing as many females as possible, the lives of every student involved are forever changed. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


Drama, Horror

Jacques Davidts

Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm



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All Critics (13) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (2)

Nicely anticipates Villeneuve's 2010 masterpiece, Incendies, another story of forgiveness in a cruel, cold world.

June 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The virtue - and also the limitation - of this movie is that it confronts senselessness and insists on remaining calm and sane.

June 28, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Polytechnique smartly exposes the spectrum of misogyny without overplaying the connection between the two incidents. Which makes the concluding flash-forward scene all the more disappointing.

June 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The tragic art of Polytechnique isn't what it shows or reveals but rather the contemplation it inspires. There are moments in life when nothing makes sense and sadness descends; this is one of them.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lensed in black-and-white, the 77-minute film is plenty arty and only arguably constructive in its tasteful fictionalization of a violent tragedy.

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Filmed in black and white, the French-language film does not set out to comprehend the crime other than to suggest that the shooter (played with a vacant stare by Maxim Gaudette) was a pathetic loser who chose to blame women for his empty life.

May 20, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Denis Villeneuve's unnerving abstraction of the subject matter daringly relays his view of the human cost of gender warfare.

June 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Villeneuve does a superb job of slowly-but-surely building the tension in the time frame before Lépine begins his assault...

December 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

The pure emotion and the truths layered into the film Polytechnique are raw, real and devastating.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Almost from beginning to end, we're filled with dread and, I must say, a morbid sense of anticipation.

April 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

S'il ne parvient jamais à prouver sa nécessité, Polytechnique s'impose à tout le moins comme une oeuvre cinématographique tout ce qu'il y a de plus pertinente

April 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Panorama

Polytechnique is a sharply-observed piece of cinema if a simplistic exploration of the gender divide.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Audience Reviews for Polytechnique

An unflinching, bleak, shockingly frank account of the 1989 Polytechnique School massacre in Montreal. Director Denis Villeneuve's film is a stunning feat of cinematography, and aptly displays the sense of dread and quite intensity he'd later drop on audiences in his 2013 thriller "Prisoners.

"The film expertly brings these horrifying events back to life (rendered all too real at times), only stumbling during a couple of character developing flashbacks and flash-forwards that break immersion and seem a little out of place and overlong. The ending may also feel a little tidy for some, but I thought it was a good contrast and unexpected in a film most existential.

By it's very nature, "Polytechnique" is a film most will deem pointless or unwatchable, but Villeneuve proves (like Van Sant with "Elephant" before him ) that film can find power and resonance in even the darkest of subjects. A strong film for those willing to not look away.
October 30, 2013

Super Reviewer

Dennis Villeneuve's retelling of the December 6, 1989 massacre at L' École Polytechnique de Montréal. This is a disturbing picture that plunges the viewer deep in the drama of the massacre. This is a superbly acted film that the tragedy in a subtle, respectable and doesn't intend to disrespect the memory of the 14 women that were murdered. Dennis Villeneuve is a great filmmaker and he treats his subject in a unique way. This is a film that can stir up some emotions of course, and most all debate. I believe that this is an important film that is very well done and told in such way that you will walk away from it and think about how things horrible tragedy could have occurred. The performances stand out, and the lead actor who plays Marc Lépine (the killer responsible for the shooting) is brilliant and menacing. Polytechnique is a film that illustrates how far someone can go when they filled with pure hatred, and Villeneuve captures that brilliantly through his camera. This is not a picture that should be seen by everyone as it is a hard film to watch, but at the same time it is a necessary one to watch so we can all learn from it, and prevent other such atrocities to ever happen again. The 14 women that lost their lives did not deserve that faith. No one deserves to be murdered like this, no matter if they're male or female. This is one of the most depressing films that I have seen in quite some time, and when the carnage that was unleashed on-screen ended, I was fairly shaken up. Polytechnique is a well directed drama based on one of Canada's greatest tragedy. If you do decide to watch this, be warned that this is a raw, intense film that plunges the viewer directly into the carnage in an unflinching manner. Brilliantly told, this is one of those films that due to the subject matter, doesn't warrant multiple viewings.
April 19, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

The re-creation of the massacre is quite efficient, depicting the shocking brutality of the real incident, but the film suffers from an irregular narrative diluted by flashbacks and jumps in time. Besides, the characters are not too well developed and the resolution is disappointing.
June 6, 2012

Super Reviewer

Man vs woman. Misogyny vs feminism. Gender warfare. Denis Villeneuve's Polytechnique doesn't try to make sense of the seemingly never-ending battle of the sexes. His film is simply about the way such hostility directed towards the opposite gender threatens to destroy the humanity that connects us all. It's sad, tragic, and as objective as a film of this kind can be.
The shooter: This nameless young student writes a letter condemning the feminist movement and how it's a propaganda tool to repress males. He decides to take his own life but not before taking out as many women as he can. He enters his school - a Montreal engineering tech school - armed with a rifle and many bullets. The film doesn't take his side, but it forces you to see his point of view, no matter skewed it might be.
The victims: A young female student, Valerie meticulously preps herself for an internship. Her obsession over looking good suggests a vain attempt to manipulate the way her interviewer sees her, one that is quickly subverted when the male interviewing her makes sexist comments. And later, she, along with several other young women at her school are shot simply because they are women in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The hero: Jean-Francois sees the shooter and several women being shot. He takes it upon himself to help as many of the wounded as he can. But as the year's go by, he's still traumatized by the incident, despite not even being fired upon.
The aftermath: At the heart of Polytechnique isn't an examination into sexism or a psycho-analysis as to why this happened. It's an account of personal tragedy, how prejudice - in this case, prejudice between the sexes - destroys lives. It's a deeply personal, moving, and gripping masterpiece.
November 25, 2011

Super Reviewer

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