Still courtesy of TIFF.
You Are Here
Though accurate, it still seems weird calling Daniel Cockburn’s excellent “meta-detective story” You Are Here his first feature film. This isn’t because Cockburn, a veteran Toronto video artist, has assembled a feature consisting largely of threaded-together shorts. Rather, the real cheat is that You Are Here expresses an astonishing wit and intelligence that seems somehow unbecoming of a rookie. But it’s undeniable: there are more brains, imagination, and spark in You Are Here than there were in the last four Egoyan movies.
You Are Here begins with a lecturer (R.D. Reid) instructing an unseen audience as to how to view a video projection of waves lapping against a beach. But the very nature of his instruction tugs us in different directions: do we attend only to the waves? To his voice? To the dancing speck of his laser pointer? And so Cockburn eases us into his world, a Toronto lost in time, where a nebbish archivist (Tracy Wright) compulsively indexes audio and video tapes she finds while traversing the city. One tape may have an experimenter (Anand Rajaram) explaining a tortuous mechanism for learning Chinese, while another tells a Twilight Zone-ish tale of a nefarious inventor’s plot to make the world see through his eyes.
Like the unruly archive it contains, You Are Here resists categorization. It’s part Paul Auster, part Charlie Kauffman, and more than a few parts Borges. But most importantly, it’s all Cockburn: a stimulating journey into the mind of a Canadian filmmaker who, though ostensibly new to the party, has arrived fully formed.
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