Saturday, June 17, 2006

NOUVELLE FRANCE

Irene Jacob, Noemie Godin-Vigneau, Gerard Depardieu, David La Haye, Tim Roth, Jason Isaacs, Juliette Gosselin, Sebastian Huberdeau, Bianca Gervais

Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex
11th French Film Festival

Canada

A French and Canadian production with a cast of international stars. Its setting is the mid 18th century in "Nouvelle France". The land referred to as "New France" is Quebec, Canada. Amidst the futile battle between England and France over its colony, a poignant love story develops between Francois and Marie Loup.
This tragic real love story is set in 1758 - 1761, a period when England decides to fight France over Canada. The haughty French unable to get anything worthwhile from their colony abandons 'the new France'.
The film primarily focuses on Marie Loup Carignan, a feisty widow, the mother of France, her only daughter. Marie Loup sells herbs/potions at the town's market place. Her concoctive lotions are considered taboo thus her reputation is somewhat of a 'witch' in that small backward community. But she is a free spirit and a very devoted mother to France. Her world changes when she falls in love with Francois Le Gardeur. An rich adventurer who sympathizes more with the indigenous Indian tribe than mingle with the oligarchy of pseudo French nouveau riche who ruled Canada during that time. Their tragic love story unfold slowly amidst the chaotic and tumultuous events during that era. Certain influential persons also intervene to prevent their love affair from blossoming.
At first, the film has this certain allure of a stage play. I couldn't help but convince myself that I was watching a movie not a theater play. Then mercifully, the middle part of the film takes on a more cinematic and visual approach. Scenes of battle scenes, extravagant parties, small town images, panoramic views of mountainous forests and the court room scenes add some weight to give the movie an 'epic' stance. The more heartwrenching part comes towards the end. The really loud dramatic music adds to the poignancy of the film. But there were times it was a bit too overwhelming for the ears. I felt the director overdid the musical score for certain scenes when a silent zoom in on the characters faces would have sufficed to lend the film the agony and tragic angst it wanted to portray. A few familiar names like Irene Jacob, Tim Roth, Gerard Depardieu and Jason Isaacs are cast in supporting roles.
But it is the 3 main characters portrayed by French/Canadian actors who really carry this film on their own merits. Noemie Godin Vigneau as Marie Loup bore this morose expression on her face. It was evident that as Marie Loup, she had a pretty rough existence and kept a pretty detached view about the world and her life in particular. David la Haye's portrayal of Francois is pensive and brooding. He isn't your average dashing leading man type. He is rugged and sometimes comes across as an arrogant, snobbish person yet his heart is filled with a yearning passion for Marie Loup. My favorite is the child actress who stars as France. Julliette Gosselin is a refreshing presence whose warm smiles exudes hope for her future despite some harsh realities in her young life.
The movies that came to my mind as I watched "Nouvelle France" were "Joan of Arc" and "Cold Mountain". But only because the theme was somewhat similar but I like to add that "Nouvelle France" was much more superior than those two abovementioned films combined. By the way, it entirely in English too. So don't worry about reading any subtitles which I believe one of the main reasons why people avoid foreign movies. Having to read subtitles which almost always don't convey the true meaning of the words expressed by the characters.

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