Friday, December 19, 2008

Mon oncle Antoine

Just like my fellow Canuck Norma, I've also heard about Mon oncle Antoine. However, I heard about it in a cinema class when I was in Grade 7. Although I found the movie a little bit boring (i.e. slow pace), I still objectively believe that Mon oncle Antoine is good, but doesn't necessarily deserve to be called the best Canadian film ever made. So to be honest with you, I just watched this movie out of curiosity.

In the 1940s: In a small mining village of Quebec, Benoît (Jacques Gagnon) works at his uncle's general store. On the eve of Christmas, many villagers gather in the general store to socialize. Through these people, Benoît will try to make a transition between teenagehood and adulthood despite not being an adult yet. On the other hand, we also follow Jos Poulin, a mine worker, who can't stand the fact that the area's economy is controlled by American and English Canadians.

If you have enough patience to watch it, you'll be seduced by this film simple storyline. Although the film doesn't give many details through dialogues and its story's evolution, it's amazing how characters are canvassed through few things. With few details, the movie displays its hidden depth and also most of the characters' back stories: how they feel about life, their joy and even their personal misery. Besides, with these hidden details, we witness Benoît's maturation and Jos Poulin's problem with Anglo-Saxon economic authority and power (and his way to deal with it). However, despite being considered as one of the best Canadian films ever made, the movie focuses on too much stories (do you consider two stories too much?). In fact, the scriptwriter could have chosen to only focus on either Benoît's coming of age or Jos Poulin's miserable life. Moreover, add to that the long periods at the beginning and in the middle of the movie.

Finally, despite the flaws you may find to it, Mon oncle Antoine still remains a movie that you should watch if you're curious about Canadian classics. However, as a movie that doesn't necessarily focus on a specific story (but rather through the daily life of its characters), I just don't think that it is as entertaining (don't expect too much from the National Film Board) as Falling Angels. Hopefully, if the story is not that great (because of the long periods), the cast's modest performance (especially from Jacques Gagnon and Lionel Villeneuve) makes up for it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Mon oncle Antoine
Canada (1971)
Length: 104 minutes
Genre: Drama
Scriptwriter: Claude Jutra and Clément Perron
Director: Claude Jutra
Starring: Jacques Gagnon, Jean Duceppe, Lyne Champagne, Olivette Thibault, Hélène Loiselle, Monique Mercure, Lionel Villeneuve and Claude Jutra

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