Run time: 120 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th November 2011
Distributed by: Adopt Films
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 19
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Producer: Pierre Even, Marie-Claude Poulin
Screenwriter: Jean-Marc Vallee
Starring: Vanessa Paradis as Jacqueline, Hélène Florent as Carole, Evelyne Brochu as Rose, Marin Gerrier as Laurent, Kevin Parent as Antoine Godin
In present-day Montreal, Antoine (Parent) has a happy life with his sexy girlfriend Rose (Brochu) and his two daughters (Corbeil-Picher and Fortier) from his ex Carole (Florent). But Carole finds herself unable to get over him, haunted by dreams and the feeling that they should be together. Meanwhile in 1969 Paris, Jacqueline (Paradis) is determined to give her Down's son Laurent (Gerrier) a full, happy life. But when he becomes attached to classmate Veronique (Dubois), who also has Down's, she finds it impossible to let go.
The film's main focus is on the intense emotional bond we have with those we love, sometimes to the point where we jeopardise our relationships when we refuse to let them evolve properly. This is a hugely complex topic, and Vallee explores it artfully by cross-cutting between the two stories while imaginatively exploring the characters' internal struggles. He also takes his time revealing links between the two strands, which is sometimes frustrating for audiences trying to keep up with things.
But as we let the film wash over us, our own emotional engagement is startlingly intense. Not only can we identify with the characters' complex reactions, but events draw on our own memories. Which makes it feel like a film about us. Vallee combines emotions pungently: joy and hope and fear and regret mingle together in ways they rarely do in cinema, but always do in real life.
So the film sometimes feels like an epic romance and other times like terrifying horror.
The cast members play it transparently, with especially notable turns from Parent and Gerrier in the pivotal roles. As the story progresses, and Carole seeks answers in an unusual place, the film encourages us to stop analysing relationships and emotions and just live in them. This may not sound like a revolutionary message, but the way Vallee conveys it is so inventive that we feel like we've been cleansed from the inside out.