Those who make revolution halfway…
…only dig their own graves: does revolt lead invariably to revolution?
By Luc Archambault
An important film opens up this Friday on movie screens across Quebec. It centres on four protagonists, young people having participated in the Printemps érable movement, fervent followers of the protest actions that set ablaze Quebec streets a few years back. But, after the appeasement of the protests, these four don’t abandon their ideals. On the contrary, they isolate themselves, stepping into full revolutionary mode, squat an abandoned apartment, and start committing concrete gestures to claim high and strong their disenchantment towards society.
The film’s title stems from a citation by the French revolutionary Louis Antoine Léon Saint-Just. From the start, the tone is set. The film, just as the script published in French at éditions Flammarion Québec, is full of quotations from documentaries (Le Temps des bouffons, an electoral campaign video from Justin Trudeau, NFB documentaries, etc.) that enrich the feverish tone of the narration, which results in a baroque piece of moviemaking, outside the realm of syrupy concoctions normally served to film buffs. This film sets itself apart and will leave all ages speechless (at least those who know how to use their gray matter).
It is fairly easy to criticize consumer society on a mocking tone. But to do so while adopting a punk attitude with a resounding “no future”, outside complacency and a simple ripple effect, is a lot more difficult. These youth have decided to cut themselves off from the world and live out their ideals to the limits of the acceptable. This absence of restraint, this freedom, this release from any social engagement is beautiful to observe, even though the conclusion is a total failure. But is it really? Failure is a term too strong here. It’s more a matter of just how these noble ideals will survive. And this survival will play itself after the timeline of the movie.
…a baroque piece of moviemaking, outside the realm of syrupy concoctions normally served to film buffs. This film sets itself apart and will leave all ages speechless…
It is not surprising that this irreverent film has reaped award after award in many international festivals, even in Ontario (at the TIFF!). With a more than respectable length of 183 minutes, it has provoked very strong reactions (people leaving and booing, followed by strong applause at the end). It doesn’t go by quietly. The fervour from the four main protagonists, played with brio by Charlotte Aubin (Giutizia), Laurent Bélanger (Tumulto), Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay (Klas Batalo) and Emmanuelle Lussier-Martinez (Ordine Nuovo), only amplify the defiant tone that Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie have incorporated to the script and to filming this masterpiece (they are co-directors). A film, just like Anne Émond’s Nelly, that places them to the forefront of the new Quebec filmmakers of the avant-garde.
But older film enthusiasts beware! This film is hard to watch, it is absolutely merciless, especially towards preconceived ideals. Because these youth as true idealists burn all bridges with social fabric. They reject everything – family, possessions, intimacy, future – and only live in the present. A present that eludes them, just as they elude themselves. Such nihilism is at the heart of a particular scene between Klas Batalo and a middle-aged man in the massage parlour she works in.
But older film enthusiasts beware! This film is hard to watch, it is absolutely merciless, especially towards preconceived ideals.
The client, an educated man, notices the book by Rosa Luxemburg being read by the young woman. He then starts reminiscing on his own revolutionary past, to which she replies “La fermes-tu ta yeule, ostie de porc?” (Will you shut the fuck up, fucking pig?) followed by “T’as pas le droit de dire ces mots-là, T’AS PAS LE DROIT, tu comprends-tu ça?” (You don’t have the right to say those words, YOU DON’T HAVE THAT RIGHT, do you understand this?). He retorts with the ravage of the passing of time, of the disintegration of ideals. She completely balks out and attacks him some more with “Tu m’dégoûtes, ostie qu’tu m’dégoûtes! Tu me donne envie de vomir! On s’en crisse de ta jeunesse pis d’tes cheveux longs! R’garde où ce que ça t’a mené! ON S’EN CRISSE, TABARNAK! (You disgust me, you fucking disgust me! You make me want to puke! We don’t give a fuck about your young days and your long hair! Look where it brought you! WE DON’T CARE, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!)”. Following this altercation, Klas Batalo will cease to work at the massage parlor, the only source of income for the group.
This intensity, this all-out offensive against society is fundamental to anyone willing to understand the least bit from the disillusion of today’s youth. Even though the fringe explored in this film is quite marginal, the underlying trend explains the mechanical and disembodied attitude in your young co-citizens. Just a bit deeper and we’d have to bring back punk questionings as the flavour of the day. But who says that questionings don’t represent the sane attitude to adopt in an age where clowns take over politics and exert their power without any regard towards the ones they’re supposed to represent?
Images: courtesy of K-Films Amérique
Writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.