- Director: Matthew Rankin
- Writer: Matthew Rankin
- Producer: Ménaïc Raoul; Gabrielle Tougas-Fréchette
A wild imagination...matched with revisionist history...you are either going to love it...or, hate it! Oooh...to Hell with the whole revisionist thing...this is pure and unadulterated fiction...stuffed with a smidgen of fact. And...what a tasty and original little morsel it turned out to be!
This is Matthew Rankin's first feature...he certainly pulled out all the stops...and, unashamedly, plasters his influences and influencers all over the place. From Monty Python to Guy Maddin, with a nod to Baby Jane, homage to Fritz Lang, even John Waters gets a look in, The Twentieth Century is a cinematic smörgåsbord that will tickle the cheeks and tweak the buns of the open-minded...especially shoe fetishists! Those not so open-minded will probably recoil in abject horror, screaming...how dare he besmirch our [if you are Canadian] most revered Prime Minister...a shoe sniffer indeed! Whether William Lyon Mackenzie King was a shoe-sniffer or not, he did have a few inappropriate [for his office] idiosyncrasies...Mr Rankin has merely amplified these idiosyncrasies above and beyond the facts...this is cinematic chutzpah...love it, loathe it...one thing is for sure...you can't ignore it!
Toronto, 1899. The young William Lyon Mackenzie King is running for the office of prime minister. The satirical and anarchic fantasy biopic The Twentieth Century explores the tribulations of the young politician, who would go on to become a long-serving prime minister of Canada. Serious Oedipal conflicts, an obsession with worn shoes and anti-masturbation therapies make it difficult for the young Mackenzie King to pursue his calling. Driven on by his authoritarian mother, he stumbles through a claustrophobic world in the grip of a bitter winter in search of love.
Filmed on 16 mm and Super 8, director Matthew Rankin tells King’s story via a Guy Maddin-inspired aesthetic; there are numerous echoes of silent films, melodramas and the comic literature of the 1930s. Cardboard sets that are at once minimalist and expressionist create a dreamlike backdrop for gender bending and theatrical acting. This debut lays out Canadian history in cheerfully perverted fashion, including ejaculating cacti and an ice-skating finale in a labyrinth of mirrors.