Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 15


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,036
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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

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Maxime Gaudette
as The Killer
Sébastien Huberdeau
as Jean-François
Evelyne Brochu
as Stéphanie
Johanne-Marie Tremblay
as Jean-François' Mother

Critic Reviews for Polytechnique

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (2)

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

    Jun 29, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    David Fear

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

    Jun 28, 2011 | Rating: 3/5
  • 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.

    Jun 28, 2011 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jul 7, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Lensed in black-and-white, the 77-minute film is plenty arty and only arguably constructive in its tasteful fictionalization of a violent tragedy.

    Sep 1, 2009

    Rob Nelson

    Top 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

Audience Reviews for Polytechnique

  • Feb 05, 2016
    One of the harshest, unforgiving, but interesting more independent films i've seen in the past five years. Polytechnique isn't so much of a film about the tragic 1989 Montreal Polytechnique shooting as it is a bleak look into the event itself and the struggle young women faced in the late 80s and early 90s; a battle with equal rights and feminism on one side, and oppression and chauvinism on the other. The film itself is unendingly bleak; filmed in black-and-white and in every sense completely focused on the lead up, occurrence, and aftermath of the horrific shooting, whilst painting somewhat of a picture about what it was like being a university student in late 80s Montreal (loud student centres, Siouxsie and the Banshees and all.) The opening lead up in the film is beautifully filmed, but also slow and boring. However when the unnamed shooter played well by Maxime Gaudette storms into the classroom and orders the student to separate, you will find that the film takes an even bleaker turn, even after the gunfire ceases. This is definitely not a film for young eyes or the squeamish; the production that went into the massacre segment is shockingly realistic, and the violence and bloodshed does not stop till the very end of the film. However, for those able to stomach such violence and for lack of a better word, warfare, one might be able to see a surprisingly good indie film.
    Kal X. A Super Reviewer
  • Aug 31, 2013
    This film is an example of what I like to call the "Explosion Storyline" which is basically where a shocking event occurs very early on and later we get to see the shrapnel that damages the surviving characters long after the event is over. "Polytechnique" is affecting, stylistic, smart, tragic, terrifying, and powerful stuff. You cannot help but be shaken by the stellar performances, unique cinematography, and it's overall terrifying events that are mostly true to the real events of the Montreal Massacre back in 1989. One of the best films of 2009 and one of the best Canadian films of the 21st century.
    ZACHO D Super Reviewer
  • Feb 14, 2012
    Villeneuve always gives us something with his films. Here we have the depiction of something similar to what happened at Montreal's Polytechnique school in 1989 and it is done in a tasteful and artistically satisfying way. Denis hasn't let me down yet.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2011
    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.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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