What is the nature of time? A simple enough question, but one that is fiendishly difficult to answer. This, however, is exactly the challenge that director André Turpin took on with his film, Endorphine.
Told it a cyclical fashion similar to classic David Lynch or Shane Carruth’s Primer, Endorphine tells the story of Simone, a woman who witnessed the murder of her mother when she was a teenager. We see Simone at three stages of her life: as an old woman (Lise Roy), as a teenager (Sophie Nélisse) and as an adult (Mylène Mackay). Instead of presenting in a linear fashion, these time periods are not content to progress through a typical cause and effect pattern, instead leaping and looping (to borrow a term from Carruth) back on themselves and on one another.
Endorphine is not as strong as the work of Lynch or Carruth, as Turpin relies a little too much on exposition and reverts to a straight narrative at several points to try and explain exactly what he is trying to achieve instead of simply showing it. When he does focus on just the images, there is a great dreamlike quality to the film, and when Turpin trusts that surrealist instinct, Endorphine is an engaging ride into the mind of a girl suffering from an extreme trauma. However, I wanted to have more questions in the end. Instead I’m left with a pretty solid understanding of what was supposed to be happening on the screen.
And what is onscreen is some solid exploration of a woman’s psyche and the strength of the mother/daughter relationship. Simone is the conduit into the world of Endorphine. She is in almost every shot and her voice and breath carry each moment into the next. The thread that binds it all together is that relationship between a mother and daughter. It’s the moment of her mother’s death, the end of that relationship, that the film revolves around. It is that moment frozen in time that drives Simone forwards, backwards and sideways as she tries to come to terms with her loss.
There is a great deal of promise in Endorphine, but it’s not quite there yet.
Endorphine had its world premiere as part of TIFF’s Vangard programme.
For more TIFF coverage from the Cinefilles, please click here.