Directed by Matthew Rankin, The Twentieth Century is one-half quirky bio-pic about the rise of Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne), and one-half spoof of King and the notion that a bio-pic can be a truth delivery device.
Shot entirely on stylized, off-kilter sets—looking like leftovers from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse—and with a gender-bending approach to casting a la Monty Python, The Twentieth Century looks at the waning years of the 1800s and the dissent between Canada’s two political parties. The one in power is imperialistic and miserable; the challenger wants to pull out of foreign wars and embrace kindness and compassion. It’s absurd, comic, and blunt in regards to gender and class, life and death. You won’t know what hit you. Now streaming on The Criterion Channel.