Thursday, September 25, 2008

C'est pas moi, je le jure!

Philippe Falardeau |2008 | 108 mins | Canada

I thought based on the incredible amount of hype this film received during the fest that it would either be the most hysterically funny comedy out of Quebec in years, or that it would be the world's most endearing story about a young boy's troubled childhood.

It's true, the film is funny and endearing, and the young actor who plays the central character, Léon Doré (Antoine L'Écuyer), is really great. Still, there was something about this film that didn't sit well with me.

Based on Bruno Hébert's critically-acclaimed novel, C'est pas moi, je le jure! takes place in the technicolour summer of 1968, and is essentially about a young boy whose family is so dysfunctional that he's got little choice but to try to hang himself in the front yard, or sneak into the vacationing neighbours' house and smash their stuff. His father is a successful, high profile human rights activist and his mother is frustrated that her husband's career dominates their family life. He drinks, she yells, and the boys act out.

Unfortunately, the film seemed undecided about whether it wanted to jovially make fun of the dysfunction or genuinely disturb the audience. Rather than creating a successful tension between these two tones and playing on the juxtaposition between the boy's funny actions and his actually sad reality, the film came off as kind of mean-spirited.

It felt a bit like listening to someone try to make a joke about something that they're actually angry about. That sort of thing feels awkward in real life, and it felt awkward in this film. Perhaps that awkwardness was the point, but I'm not sure it worked.

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