Continuing with their release of festival favourites, Alliance truly outdo themselves with his collection of films from one of Canada’s leading (yet often overlooked) directors: Robert Lepage.
Known and recognized most widely for his stage work and with only five film titles to his credit, Lepage has often been referred to as a master of the transition, something which has been evident from his first film.
Lepage’s film debut, Le confessionnal (The Confessional), blends two story lines taking place in different time periods which are tied together beautifully to tell the mystery of a family’s past. One of the stories takes place in 1950s Quebec City where Alfred Hitchcock is directing I Confess while the second takes place in the early 90s with a man’s return to Quebec City for his father’s funeral. Aside from being an engaging and intricately built family drama and mystery, the film also captures old Quebec City and frames it against the modern, showing how dramatically the city has changed over the years.
In 1998’s Nô (No), Lepage takes on the referendum. Setting his film during the October Crisis, the film once again strattles two stories. This time we have Michael, an FLQ sympathizer who, through his less than genius friends, ends up in the middle of some heavy FLQ action (which, in a hilarious series of events leads to the blowing up of his appartment) while his girl friend, an actress, is in Japan trying to decide whether to keep the baby (a baby she isn’t sure Michael is the father of) while trying not ruin her dinner with the visiting Canadian ambassador. It’s a witty, smart script full of great comedic moments delivered to perfection by a great group of actors.
Based on his play of the same title, Lepage’s final film La face cachée de la lune (The Far Side of the Moon) is a touching, sometimes comedic story of a man searching for meaning in his life. Starring Lepage himself in the lead role, this is the story of Philippe. Having just failed his Ph.D. dissertation for the second time, working a dead end job selling news paper subscriptions, dealing with the after affects of a failed marriage and the recent death of his mother, Philippe’s world seems to be falling apart until three incidents change his life completely. Set to the backdrop of the USSR/US space race of the 1960s, Lepage’s film is both humerous and poignant as well as beautifully directed-
Though it’s a shame that Lepage has, in the past few years, directed most of his efforts to the stage, his short filmography leaves behind a legacy of great Canadian films, films that manage to be both humerous and heartfelt while never speaking down to their audience.
Rating for the set: