Tchoupitoulas ★★★★★

This might seem a bit premature, but the Ross Brothers Tchoupitoulas will likely end up being one of my favourite films of the festival (and maybe, the year). This nostalgic adventure follows a group of three kids (and their trusty dog Buttercup) as they explore the French Quarter in New Orleans. The sights and sounds of the nightlife weave in and out of the narrative, piquing the curiosity of the boys and exposing them to the rich cultures and traditions the city is known for. When the group misses their midnight ferry home, they’re face with an unexpected adventure that had me absolutely captivated. The feeling I got while watching Tchoupitoulas is most recently comparable to my experience with Terrance Malick’s The Tree of Life. In particular, the ‘endless summer’ section of the film in which Malick allows the boys to be boys. While I certainly didn’t grow up in New Orleans (I’ve never even been there), the film manages to tap into and awaken dormant childhood memories and images that are truly universal. A moment that stood out the most for me was in the final act, in which the boys come upon a seemingly abandoned ferry. They decide to sneak on board and explore its creepy, dark hallways, letting their imaginations (and the audiences) take over. This sense of curiosity and adventure says more to me about the human experience (and the cinema-going experience) than any graphs-and-charts social issue doc could ever dream to achieve. Tchoupitoulas is a vicarious and engaging cinematic adventure and a welcome reminder of why I love the movies.

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