Aurore Luc Dionne

This ludicrous Quebec melodrama puts you in a time warp; I had to remind myself that it was merely set in 1909 and not actually made there. Based on a true story (already filmed in a1952 smash hit), it details the trials of a young girl named Aurore, who is cruelly abused by a wicked stepmother and ignored by a passive father. Despite the step mom's tendency to off Aurore's siblings, the surrounding village does nothing to stop her and the local priest is too self-impressed to do anything but shrug. Only the Justice of the Peace (The Barbarian Invasions' Remy Girard) tries to do anything, but he may be too late. Though Aurore comes on like it's saying something or other about child abuse and certain cultural flashpoints, it's pure sensationalism from fade in to fade out — delighted horror greets every indignity inflicted by the brutal, sluttish mother-villain, while the title character is practically granted sainthood through her Passion of the Christ torments. This would be a great guilty pleasure were it not for the laughable timidity of the filmmakers; the movie pulls every single punch it throws, failing to evoke the squalor of the household and the pain of the abuse. The film is sadomasochism for Quakers, too craven to succeed as genuine drama but too cowardly to deliver the lurid goods, and ultimately makes you roll your eyes, slump in your seat, and ask, "who writes this stuff?" Extras include a director's commentary, a CBC documentary on the events that inspired the film and several featurettes. Unfortunately for us Anglos, none of them are subtitled in English. (Alliance Atlantis)