The residents of Beijing’s Songzhuang Artists’ Colony like to roam and love to drink, and when they combine the two, they need a ride home.
Although he relies on their patronage to make a living, Lao Jin doesn’t keep his distance from those he chauffeurs—he banters and badgers, shares financial worries, offers uncanny pop-criticism of their work, asks for prints, and promotes their cause to anyone who will listen.
“Understand?” he asks a baffled onlooker at a “happening,” as one artist busies himself stacking bricks and another strips naked and scrapes his ass across a road sign. “If you don’t, watch and learn.”
Bestiaire’s silence, visual style, and beauty leaves you awestruck. What the film doesn’t do is explicitly promote anthropomorphism; in fact, Côté has written that he filmed Bestiaire in opposition to precisely that tendency in nature films. So it’s against his will that the film incites such a reaction anyway and in droves. One of the first animals we see, a llama pacing by the edge of his enclosure in the middle of winter, might be warding off the cold, anxiously awaiting his next meal, or perhaps it’s wondering why suddenly no one comes to visit anymore.