Our Loved Ones
Directed by Anne Émond
1978. In a small village in Bas-St-Laurent, Guy’s tragic death is a shock for the Leblanc family. For many years, the real cause of his death is kept hidden from some members of the family, including his son David. The latter in turn starts his own family with his wife Marie. He lovingly raises his children Laurence and Frédéric, but deep within him harbours a persistent melancholy.
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★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
Attempts something enormously ambitious, though that can only be grasped in hindsight. Émond deftly disguises her intentions by avoiding dramatic confrontation; every time something significant happens, the narrative unexpectedly leaps forward several years, making it difficult to assess how the characters (one of them in particular) have or haven't adjusted/coped/understood. Instead, each individual scene, with few exceptions, appears to be concerned primarily with glancing, ephemeral details, Boyhood-style, which makes the big picture all the more forceful when it finally arrives. Just the right delicate touch for this subject.
★★★½ review by Lawrence Garcia on Letterboxd
The kind of ostensibly small, yet actually quite daring film that unfortunately gets lost in the festival shuffle. Had it not been a slow night, with not much else showing in the time slot (the only notable one I can recall was Victoria, which I had already seen at that point) or for Mike D'Angelo's endorsement, I might not even have seen it. Which is a shame because it's really quite deft and moving. Its greatest achievement is that is somehow makes the tragic event both incomprehensible and completely understandable at the same time, with the film simultaneously taking the father's and family's perspective. The narrative elisions are kind of wondrous, and at first might seem non-committal—the film seems as if it skirts around the more dramatic moments—but then reveals itself to be extremely purposeful, as it lets the film takes the compressed passage of time and the impressionistic view of a life lived as its very subjects. Last 15 minutes or so are superfluous, though, and it kind of botches the ending, which is even more irritating given that—like Force Majeure, to which this otherwise bears absolutely no resemblance—it had already fashioned a nearly perfect one. The image of Laurence floating in the sea—suggesting both simultaneous danger and freedom—would have been perfect; that and the sounds of seagulls, followed by a cut to black.
★★★★½ review by Olivier Lemay 🍑 on Letterboxd
Sooooo much better on rewatch! This is by far Anne Émond's most emotionally investing and ambitious and it's the greatest thing she's done yet. I wish I had something worth saying about this underseen masterpiece but it's so exhilarating that I can't make up any other thought than saying it's amazing
★★★½ review by Nick Malbeuf on Letterboxd
Like a lot of small Canadian films, the narrative took awhile to grab me, but it got around to it. At once a small indie and a grand family pic, by telling a multi-generational story using only small moments. The relatively unknown cast is wonderful, and although the aging of obviously young actors is awkward at times, I think I preferred it to having to adapt to a new person in the same role at different ages. Also, nice to see a (relatively) healthy father-daughter relationship on-screen, and a film that is about mental health rather than just using mental health as a plot point.
★★★★ review by C.J. on Letterboxd
I completely forgot to log this one back at TIFF. It's grown on me quite a bit since I first saw it. The way Emond handles the passing of time is incredible in its simplicity, and her portrayal of depression is, at certain points, too real (largely because she understands how much existence and time can turn into an ever-increasing weight for people). I'm very, very excited for what Anne Emond does next (shameless plug alert: I interviewed Emond back at TIFF, and you can read it here waytooindie.com/interview/anne-emond-talks-about-her-ambitious-new-film-our-loved-ones/)
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