There may not have been many Québécois films at this year’s film festival, but those that did appear were first-rate.
Sylvain Guy’s film noir Detour (which, despite its title, owes more to Billy Wilder than it does to Edgar G. Ulmer) could not have been more pure, genrewise. (Even the protagonist’s name is a tribute to Double Indemnity.) “I’ve always loved noir writers,” Guy explained to an enthralled Vancity Theatre audience on October 7, “but I prefer the more messed-up ones, like Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, to Raymond Chandler.”
Guy added, “When working in noir, there are two essential questions to ask. The first is ”˜Who’s the chump?’ and the second, ”˜How big a chump is he?’ ”
The must-see Québécois production this year is I Killed My Mother (Canada’s official nomination for the best-foreign-language Oscar and a major prizewinner at Cannes, despite its minuscule budget), which plays today (October 15) at 1 p.m. Costar Anne Dorval (the voice of Sharon Stone and Lucy Liu in Quebec, a place where “an actor has to do everything in order to survive”) received an enthusiastic reception from the audience at the October 11 screening at the Granville 7 cinemas, where she participated in a bilingual question-and-answer session.
In an interview with the Straight at the Sutton Place Hotel, Dorval explained that the film’s dynamic is quite complicated. “Chantale Mintel [the mother of the film’s lead character, played by then-19-year-old writer-director-star Xavier Dolan] is no Medea,” Dorval said. “She loves her son even though she doesn’t understand him. What she is, basically, is a woman alone. Very much alone.” Something that raw talent in the Quebec film industry clearly is not.