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Viking: a dream with both feet on the ground

By Sharely Cuellar

A brief true-or-false personality test introduces us to David (Steve Laplante); In this interview designed to learn about his psychology, we get a first glimpse of this man, whom we later discover to be a high school physical education teacher, who places great importance on his dreams, a fundamental axis for the story. This is Stéphane Lafleur’s fourth feature film, which appears to belong to the science fiction genre. However, as the main character's dramatic arc unfolds, we start identifying elements that place Viking in the comedy-drama category.

Out of patriotism, five people agree to participate in a secret project to help the group of astronauts, currently in space, who were tasked with the mission of becoming the first humans to reach Mars. Starting from the basis that "humanity cannot be built with machines", the five volunteers must solve problems faced by the space team. From a base set up in an arid zone, they re-enact situations that their astronaut counterparts would face, leaving aside their own lives to adopt their new ones.

David, who is committed to this task, which entailed saying goodbye to his wife and leaving with little explanation, quickly becomes frustrated with the trivial issues they have to solve. Time, cohabitation, and the drive to imagine himself as an astronaut, conjure up in his mind the idea that he could actually achieve the goal of becoming himself a man en route to Mars. Lafleur’s fondness for films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) or for the cinema of Yorgos Lanthimos is palpable, something he himself has admitted to in different interviews.

Viking immerses us in David’s mind and his perception of duty, desire, and the conflicts and contradictions inherent to humanity. In the quest to create scientific, approved, accurate and irrefutable solutions, we often forget the most basic premise: to accept that life and the environment cannot be controlled.

This dream, which given a different tone could become a parody of astronauts or an unsettling thriller, makes for a film that is well aware of its most comic moments, which provide balance to less heroic or epic conclusions when confronting expectations with reality.

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