2020 in 10 favorites

2020 in 10 favorites

In this very particular year, when the performing arts were practically absent from the stages and many outstanding works only emerged in an embryonic way – I am thinking among others of The goddess of fire flies by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and Miss Julie, in a production by Serge Denoncourt, which we hope to see reborn soon – here are my 10 favorites.

Portrait of the girl on fire, by Céline Sciamma

This splendid period film by Frenchwoman Céline Sciamma evokes the story of an impossible (and burning) love between two young women. A fine, sensitive, sensual, elegant film, which features a formidable Adèle Haenel, the filmmaker’s favorite actress. She bursts the screen in the role of the recalcitrant model. Céline Sciamma’s staging is magnificent in its subtlety. The filmmaker films the birth of love, modest restraint, the intensity of desire satisfied, thanks to looks, innuendo, unspoken. His close-ups of the faces of lovers, while nature is unleashed in the background or the fire is consumed, are sublime poetry. This Portrait of the girl on fire is not only beautiful. It is also an eloquent manifesto on class relations and the condition of women, from yesterday to today.

Darkness, by Paul Kawczak

Pierre Claes, a young Belgian surveyor commissioned by the King to mark Africa, sails on the Congo River aboard the Flower of Bruges, towards a colonial world doomed to ruin. Quebecer Paul Kawczak delivers an exceptional first novel, with a rich and incantatory style. A powerful anti-colonialist fable, coupled with an adventure novel in homage to the Heart of darkness by Joseph Conrad. A tale of dark and violent flesh, nightmarish and sordid, erotic and hypnotic, which does not fear magical realism. A tour de force. Published in La Peuplade.

Lights to see, by Marie-Pierre Arthur

On her fourth album, Marie-Pierre Arthur has a blast, takes many paths, without repeating herself. With retro tones of the 70s or 80s, it combines funk, pop, even grunge, in an undeniably contemporary packaging. It’s raw and raw one moment, then polished and licked the next moment. The singer-songwriter speaks of love, family, friendship, in a very simple poetry, without show off. There isn’t a Quebec song that I have listened to more this year than the title track, Lights to see, with its irresistible distorted guitars.

Marilyn Castonguay in The girls and the boys

Like a speaker, a young Briton explains how she left her life of debauchery, met her husband, became a mother, before happiness turned into a nightmare. Marilyn Castonguay delivered in January this breathtaking solo by Dennis Kelley at La Licorne, in a translation by Fanny Britt and directed by Denis Bernard. Her ability, alone on stage, to move, is phenomenal. She begins in the humor and earthiness of the verb, then her gaze suddenly fogs and a grin hints at the pain of a very dark drama. What happened ? She gives us clues throughout this captivating monologue, lasting nearly two hours, from which we leave breathless.

Make the sugars, by Fanny Britt

In this brilliant choral novel published in August Horse, Fanny Britt tackles the thorny question of privileges: those we have, those we do not have, those which do not make us happier even when we have them. consciousness. Adam, 47, chef at a trendy restaurant where the hip people eat, is a television star. Everything smiles on him, until the day when a stupid surfing accident in Martha’s Vineyard makes him lose his balance, literally and figuratively. His existential crisis threatens his career as his couple. Fanny Britt’s bittersweet humor, her lucid observations on the human condition, the fine psychology of her characters underlie this skilfully conducted and beautifully written crossover.

Wretched, by Ladj Ly

Inspired by a police blunder in the suburbs of Paris, in Montfermeil, where Victor Hugo is said to have written his famous novel and where the French filmmaker Ladj Ly grew up, Wretched is a social drama with thriller overtones, explosive, anything but Manichean, which draws its intensity from the nuance and shadowy areas of strong and complex characters. The story is presented from the point of view of a Norman policeman transferred to a riot section in the Paris suburbs, facing groups that disturb social peace: very young delinquents, a traveling circus troupe, the Muslim Brotherhood and police officers who constantly abuse their power. The balance is precarious and the pot threatens to explode. “There are no weeds or bad men,” wrote Victor Hugo. There are only bad cultivators. This is the credo of this hard-hitting film.

Manhunt, by Sophie Létourneau

Sophie Létourneau consults a fortune-teller who tells her that, thanks to a book, she will meet the man of her life. It is this amorous quest that she tells us, in the tone of confidence, without make-up, with a lot of self-mockery. This fragmented story published by La Peuplade is both light and deep, intimate and universal, sensitive and touching. A declaration of love for literature and a sparkling, intelligent reflection on the place of women in literature (and in academia). A novel in tune with the #moiaussi movement, that is to say the antithesis of the male gaze that defines women as a literary character. An original, captivating, exciting, ingenious, erudite and witty book, but not at all pretentious, which reads like a thriller.

This is how i love you, by François Létourneau

The duo formed by François Létourneau (alone in the script this time) and Jean-François Rivard (in the direction) gave birth to some of the most unique series on Quebec television: The invincibles and Black sequence. You can add instant classics to the list This is how I love you Delirious period chronicle on two couples from Sainte-Foy whose daily life turns upside down when they enter the shady world of Quebec in the mid-1970s. Infidelities, shenanigans, machismo, revolutionary feminism, police infiltration … Funny, biting, original, unforgettable. Pure Létourneau-Rivard.

When the night falls, by Louis-Jean Cormier

On March 10, I attended a listening session for Louis-Jean Cormier’s third solo album, in his studio. Three days later, we were all confined. When the night falls is aptly named. It is an ambitious album of magnificent songs, where we find Louis-Jean Cormier where we did not expect him, without guitar, at the piano, in the intimate and intimate, talking to us about his father, his children, his lover from Ethiopia – where he recently made a remarkable trip -, his fears and his hopes, but also the narcissism of social networks or the stories that a photo tells. Cormier reinvented himself just before it became an injunction.

Sorry We Missed You, by Ken Loach

Ricky, who has accumulated odd jobs all his life, hopes to get out of poverty by working on his own as a parcel delivery driver. Except that in the digital age, when unions are no longer up to date, the mirage of control over his destiny makes him a new kind of economic slave. Camped in the north of England, like the previous one I, Daniel Blake (Palme d’Or in 2016), this social drama in the purest naturalistic tradition of social cinema by Ken Loach is concerned with the worries of the family of the modern working class. At 84, Loach offers one of his best films in his career, painting a nuanced, moving family portrait with tenderness and a deep humanity.

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