Opening 29 Dec 2016
It takes 12 years for Louis to return home and he is struggling with the emotions of confronting his family which he left behind. His mother, brother, sister, and new sister-in-law, who are waiting with anticipation to see the man who made a life for himself, are unsure of themselves. They perform like they are playing charades, constantly struggling with their unspoken histories and memories. Louis has come to say something but fights with the silence that has overtaken him. They are clearly a family struggling with their emotional dysfunctionality and are afraid to say what is in their heart.
Director Xavier Dolan takes Jean-Luc La Grace’s stage play onto another level. He made things happen in the film which are difficult to do on stage. In the film, in the silence between the action scenes, there are moments of sounds, memories, color. Or a blurred moment happens. If this film could produce smells, it would be hidden between the lines as well. This film breathes and blinks in a way that makes you feel that the film itself is a living being.
There is an excellent international cast: Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Nathallie Baye. The setting takes place mostly in the family house so it is tight and controlled with swelling emotions which are trying to escape at every turn. Before viewing the film at the Filmfest Hamburg, there was an opening skype message from Xavier Dolan apologizing that he could not attend the festival. He praised the Hamburg Film festival and manager Albert Wiederspiel and the team for their support and generosity in his efforts as a director. This seemed a bit strange since he had already won the Gran Prix at Cannes but it could be that he was anticipating mixed reviews like he had received at Cannes.
In retrospect I believe that Wiederspiel made the right decision by taking this film into the program as well as the Art Cinema jury choosing this fantastic and memorable film as the recipient of this award. It clearly was my favorite film from all the films that I saw in all the different categories. This family drama is a must see; get your tickets and start the New Year off with a worthwhile film with deep insights into a family’s psyche. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)