Contre Toute Esperance (Summit Circle) Bernard Emond

Contre Toute Esperance (Summit Circle) Bernard Emond

I’ll start off by saying that I agree with everything this movie says, in theory. There’s no denying the sinister forces of the market and there’s no denying the destruction they leave in their wake. But in practice, Bernard Emond’s cri de coeur against such forces proves so enervating and dour that it’s nearly impossible to tolerate.

The film begins with a bloody woman (Guylaine Tremblay) being arrested for shooting up a rich man’s house and goes on to examine the events that led up to her actions. Turns out that her trucker husband (Guy Jodoin) suffered a pair of strokes right at the moment her call centre job was downsized and they lost the house they loved. Alas, our heroes aren’t the most charismatic people on Earth — already hobbled by the fatalistic scenario, they barely register any emotion and don’t have much in the line of poetry to their language. In fact, the whole thing is so flat and functional that all we’re left with is the bleakness of the situation, which is so overwhelming that you want to flee the theatre screaming.

The point is not that circumstances like this don’t happen, it’s that Emond isn’t trying to provoke us to action; he’s pretty much given up the ghost and merely records the foregone conclusion of his poor innocents being crushed in typical Canadian fashion. And it can’t even whip up much heat, with a mise-en scène so pedestrian as to be a slap in the face to the audience.

I can’t imagine anyone who would get much out of this movie — entertainment seekers are left completely out in the cold, while political rabble-rousers will be more than slightly miffed at the director consigning his heroes, and us, to total oblivion. (Seville)