Guy Maddin’s “docu-fantasia” “My Winnipeg,” about a town almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the Manitoban urban center in which he grew up, opens in theaters today. And the crowd goes wild! Or at least murmurs appreciatively. “Even though much of My Winnipeg is overtly ludicrous–from the corrupt judging of male beauty pageants in The Hudson’s Bay Company’s “Paddle Room” to Maddin’s memories of a locally produced TV series about an overly sensitive man who spends every episode out on a ledge, threatening to kill himself,” writes Noel Murray at the Onion AV Club, “the movie still touches on real feelings of loss and regret.” He concludes that it’s “perhaps his best film to date.” “My Winnipeg is Maddin’s best filmmaking since the not-dissimilar confessional bargain-basement phantasmagoria, Cowards Bend the Knee,” suggests J. Hoberman at the Village Voice.
“[E]ven though I suspect that some of its more outlandish assertions are at least partly grounded in fact, Mr. Maddin is engaged less in historical inquiry than in hallucinatory autobiography,” writes A.O. Scott at the New York Times. “[W]hatever its connection to the actual, transitory city, Mr. Maddin’s Winnipeg — ‘My Winnipeg’ — is as real as any work of art can be.” “By turns madcap and painfully nostalgic, it’s at heart a mournful fugue to origins, aging, and something like forgiveness, familial and civic,” claims Bill Weber at Slant.
For David Edelstein at New York, “My Winnipeg is overloaded and digressive–it comes with the territory–but it’s also grounded in a place, Maddin’s Manitoban hometown, and it’s painfully engrossing.” But for Andrew Tracy at Reverse Shot, the film is an (unwarranted, from my perspective) opportunity to write off Maddin’s entire output at “boutique cinema, frilly and clever enough to be momentarily diverting and content to be set aside when amusement begins to dwindle.”
[Photo: “My Winnipeg,” IFC Films, 2007]