Directed by Mathieu Denis
A teenage Quebecer in the 1960s evolves from pro-independence activist to radical terrorist, in this gripping chronicle of the origins of the FLQ in the decade preceding the 1970 October Crisis.
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★★★½ review by Kamran Ahmed on Letterboxd
Mathieu Denis’s Corbo, a feature film about the life and death of Jean Corbo, a 16 year old member of the underground solidarity movement in Quebec circa 1966, is a powerful though incomplete portrayal of struggle and political crisis. Boasting many strong qualities and displaying great professionalism, Corbo demonstrates its sophistication through its symmetrical opening and closing shots. The film uses interior and exterior, foreground and background, to positive ends; as the camera slowly but surely moves through space it delineates space as a visual expression of separation. This visual rhetoric speaks to the film’s thematic concern with separatism as a political movement.
Furnishing this well-researched film, which is based on a true story, are a number of historical and philosophical quotes and concepts. In particular, the writings of Frantz Fanon is used to supplement FLQ speeches. The notion of violence as the only form of revolution is repeated through both language and form. Visual motifs reassure the viewer that violence is not an option but an only choice. In spite of this, one sighs in disbelief at the activities which ensue. While Corbo will not make Canada feel proud, it is a part of Canadian history which merits being known. It is a story which needed to be told, and Mathieu Denis does this job quite estimably.
79/100 - Very Good
★★★★ review by Kevin on Letterboxd
“Province de Québec, Canada. 1966.
80% de la population est francophone, mais l'économie est contrôlée par la minorité anglophone.
L'anglais est la langue du travail et de l'argent.
Les postes de direction et ceux de la fonction publique fédérale sont réservés aux anglophones.
Les lois du travail favorisent le patronat.
Les grèves se multiplient, mais les choses ne changent pas.
La force ouvrière québécoise reste à l'écart de la vague de prospérité qui déferle sur l'Amérique du Nord.
Pour certains Québécois, les réformes politiques ne suffisent plus à renverser les règles d'un jeu dont ils estiment être les éternels perdants.
Une conviction monte en eux.
Des moyens plus radicaux doivent maintenant être envisagés.”
★★★½ review by daniel on Letterboxd
Elucidation of the sacrifices—personal, corporeal, familial, associational, societal, moral—made in the name of revolution.
★★★★ review by Éloïse T. on Letterboxd
That guy from Mommy was actually seating right in front of me. So yeah, this was a GOOD movie experience.
But not just because of that fact, you know
★★★½ review by James Tracey on Letterboxd
Way, WAY more interesting when it seeks to recount the historical facts revolving around the origins of the FLQ rather than focusing on Michael's pretty generic coming of age story. It's a shame, because Mathieu Denis has a natural hand for visual storytelling, and it's depressing that he opts to go "on the nose" so frequently when he makes his points perfectly clear prior to dabbling in cliches.
But the political setting of 1960s Quebec and the mindset of the culture is so intoxicating and calls to mind "The Battle of Algiers" (the film is even referenced) right down to the somewhat sympathetic leanings to a traditionally vilified terrorist group.
The film stumbles at times, but when it hits, it REALLY hits.
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