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Polytechnique (2009)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, History | 6 February 2009 (USA)
1:25 | Trailer
A dramatization of the 1989 Montréal Massacre, during which several female engineering students were murdered by an unstable misogynist.


Denis Villeneuve


Jacques Davidts (scenario and dialogue), Denis Villeneuve (collaboration) | 1 more credit »
16 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Maxim Gaudette ... The Killer
Sébastien Huberdeau ... Jean-François
Karine Vanasse ... Valérie
Martin Watier ... Jean-François (voice)
Evelyne Brochu ... Stéphanie
Johanne-Marie Tremblay ... Jean-François' Mother
Natalie Hamel-Roy Natalie Hamel-Roy ... Jean-François' Mother (voice) (as Nathalie Hamel-Roy)
Pierre-Yves Cardinal ... Éric
Pierre Leblanc Pierre Leblanc ... Mr. Martineau
Francesca Barcenas ... Injured Student at Copier
Eve Duranceau ... Student with the Ear Injury
Mathieu Ledoux Mathieu Ledoux ... Injured Student
Adam Kosh ... Killer's Roommate
Larissa Corriveau Larissa Corriveau ... Killer's Neighboor
Manon Lapointe Manon Lapointe ... Killer's Mother


On December 6, 1989, a lone gunman walked into Montréal's École Polytechnique (in Canada), a post-secondary institution focusing primarily in engineering, and began a shooting massacre. This event and its aftermath are shown from the perspective of three people. The first is the shooter himself, who blamed the problems in his life on who he considered feminists, such as female engineering students, who were his primary targets. This event was the culmination of a seven year plan, which had a self-defined end. The second is female mechanical engineering student Valérie, who earlier that day had an interview for her dream internship, working on an aerospace project. The interview process itself was a disturbing one for her in the stereotypical view by the male interviewer, who did not believe that females could work in the business and still have aspirations to have a family. And the third is Jean-François, Valérie's friend and fellow mechanical engineering student, who was one of the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | History


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


The film was shot in black and white in order to avoid the presence of blood on screen. See more »


Valérie: If I have a boy, I'll teach him how to love. If I have a girl, I'll tell her the world is hers.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In addition to the French-Canadian language version, an English language version was also shot (back-to-back). See more »


Featured in The Hour: Episode #7.83 (2011) See more »


Tainted Love
Written by Ed Cobb
Embassy Music Corporation
Performed by Mark Arnell
With permission of Music Sales Corporation
See more »

User Reviews

Tense early Denis Villenueve film
23 July 2020 | by gortxSee all my reviews

A tense early Denis Villenueve film based on a mass shooting at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. Villenueve's fictionalized account follows the killer (never named; played by actor Maxim Gaudette) and three students on the day of the massacre. The shooter was an incel-like anti-feminist who specifically targeted the female students.

POLYTECHNIQUE isn't a by the numbers school shooting account. It flits from the day of the shooting to flashbacks and even a flash-forward. It's a highly stylized, almost impressionistic presentation. The three principal students are two female roommates, Valerie (Karine Vanasee; very good) and Stephanie (Evelyne Brochu), and Valerie's male friend Jean-Francois (Sébastien Huberdea). They are fairly quickly introduced and sketched out before the main events play out.

Shooting on Black & White film gives it a stark look, but Pierre Gill's camera glides and slides along gracefully. It's composed in the very widescreen aspect ratio of 2:35 (as opposed to the standard 1:85). The combination of the movements and the elongated monochrome frame gives the whole film the added haunting dimension. The music (Benoît Charest) is similarly against type for a crime picture. Simple and plaintive.

Villenueve's treatment (he collaborated with two others on the script) isn't exploitative, but, it's still very difficult to watch at times. His almost matter of fact direction of the central sequence is shocking without showy montage. The most chilling shot is of the killer calmly reloading as his victims lie dead or dying.

It's a relief in a way that the film is only 77 minutes long, but, it also adds to the general intensity. Villenueve's next film, the brilliant Oscar Nominated INCENDIES, really put him on the map (leading to his Hollywood career (SICARIO, PRISONERS, BLADE RUNNER 2049), but POLYTECHNIQE is, in its own compressed way, a significant achievement of its own.

P.S. The French-Canadian production shot simultaneously in French and in English. I saw the English language version, but the dialogue is so relatively sparse, it doesn't appear as if seeing the Quebecois version would be much different.

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Release Date:

6 February 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Polytechnique See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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