Entre la Mer et L'eau Douce Michel Brault

This 1968 effort was billed as the Quebecois Goin' Down the Road and caused quite a stir upon its original release. Alas, the distance of time reveals it as content to touch on issues rather than develop them. It's one of those "we will deal with the issues of now" numbers so popular in the '60s, following the adventures of Claude Tremblay (Claude Gauthier) as he travels from his rural backwater to the mean streets of Montreal. There are some romantic exploits with waitress/dancing instructor Genevieve (Genevieve Bujold), and attempts to become a singing/songwriting superstar, but there's a lot of underpaid downtime and inert frustration. There's nothing inherently wrong with this trajectory, but the film is clearly trying to combine documentary and fiction techniques in a Canadian sort of way - that is, treat everything like an external circumstance and not as a give-and-take between the person and his environment. To be sure it's a fascinating window into a time and a place, with a vanished Montreal at a crucial moment in its history, but the analysis on hand is rather shallow, more done for a "serious" showing than an attempt to come to terms with a social pattern. There's no denying a refreshing looseness to the production; it's so loose that it lets the contents spill out haphazardly. And though you can write off the antiquated sexual mores on the time it was made, it doesn't make them any easier to swallow. That director Michel Brault would go on to the Canadian masterpiece Les ordres (and that it was co-written by the likes of Denys Arcand and Claude Jutra) makes for a keen disappointment, as you know talented people laboured at something that doesn't cut the mustard. (Coopératio)