I just finished watching this movie, and posted a review over at AllConsuming. I don’t do that for everything I finish, but this movie deserved a review.
I remember when I was a kid, my father said of Canadian films, “Well, you know, they film something like a bug, and the bug sits still, and you’re waiting for something to happen. Then the bug moves, but nothing happens. Ten minutes, you watch that bug, and then you give up. That’s Canadian film.”
In some ways, he may have been right. Canada certainly can’t compete in the area of action, thriller, things like that. When I lived in Montreal, tons of Hollywood movies were shot there, at least the outdoor scenes, but very few Canadian movies did much with the infrastructure that existed. That has, however, changed in the last few years, say, since the late 90s.
This is a movie about a French-Canadian family struggling with the difficulties of the kids growing up, the world changing, with drugs and sexuality and all that other stuff that complicates human life as kids pass into adulthood. I’m not a francophone, but spent a lot of time visiting family in Quebec, and the characters and family seemed very authentic to me.
It’s sad, it’s funny — the dad makes a killer comment on his misgivings about the Church, his distrust of an all-male clergy praying to a long-haired man who hung out with guys in robes — it’s painful, it’s touching, and it’s quite well-made.
Comparisons to the British coming-out/coming-of-age movie Beautiful Thing are inevitable, so I’m going to point out the main difference — this film was much more about the difficulties of coming out in a specifically French-Canadian family, about the complexities of dealing siblings in that setting, about identity more than romance. The protagonist, Zac, never actually has a male lover onscreen, it’s mostly about his identity and his experience in coming to terms with his sexuality that is the focus. So it’s not a sweet, funny romance that happens to have two male leads, like in Beautiful Thing. It’s very much about one young man struggling to make clear — to himself, and to his family — his identity, in the face of expectations, resistance, deep heartfelt love, pressures, fears, uncertainties, and all of that.
Anyway, it’s one of those Canadian films — like “The Hanging Garden” and “Kissed” and “Dance Me Outside” — that certainly defy my father’s definition (and experience) of Canadian film.