Today at Chicago International Film Festival: ‘Staying Vertical’

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Leo (Damien Bonnard) holds his newborn in “Staying Vertical.”

The Chicago International Film Festival continues through Thursday at AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois.

French writer-director Alain Guiraudie concocts an intriguing variant on the usual tale of writer’s block. Driving through the countryside, Leo (Damien Bonnard) stops at a sheep farm and fathers a child with the farmer’s daughter Marie (India Hair). He stays around for a new life. Month after month, Leo tells his producer in Paris that his script is on its way and asks for one advance after another.

Like Leo, the plot of “Staying Vertical” takes a number of sidetracks. An unexpected death gets him into a lurid headline. Spoiler alert: He does not ditch his initial draft and script instead a first-person film based on his wayward life.

Guiraudie once again places gay characters in a rural locale – recalling his deadlier “Stranger by the Lake” and funnier ”The King of Escape.” A wondrously odd ending stars wolves. By far, it’s the best last scene I spotted in this year’s fest. 5:45 p.m. Oct. 26

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