June 25th, 2021
MOVIE: LES NOTRES
STARRING: EMILIE BIERRE, MARIANNE FARLEY, PAUL DOUCET
DIRECTED BY: JEANNE LEBLANC
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
Les Notres is a well made movie, with a serious topic about a teen pregnancy, authentic performances that help drive the narrative, and yet, the final result had me incredibly frustrated. Director Jeanne Leblanc’s film is both heartbreaking and enraging, about a 13-year old child that passes out during her dance class and when she goes to the doctor it’s revealed she is pregnant. A mother is in shock and the neighborhood begins to whisper, making claims about who the father is, and letting their judgemental tongues fly. It’s not a comfortable scenario and the story’s stubbornness to give a release of emotions hinders Les Notres from becoming a great piece of cinema.
The translation for Les Notres is “Our Own” and what’s evident is that each character is drawn to dig their heels deep into the ground. It could be said that they “take care of their own” or that each character is only looking out for themselves, and that might be the story’s blanket message, but it’s lost in the conflict. Early on we see Magalie (Emilie Bierre) at dance class, smoothly moving, and then suddenly passing out. She hurts her arm but what’s revealed is that she’s pregnant. Her mother Isabelle (Marianne Farley) is in shock. Her daughter is only 13 and now, Magalie refuses to let her mom, or anyone else, know who the father is. This leads to a town of speculation, gossip, and disgusting insults at Magalie. Her struggle becomes a burden on her family, the neighbors across the street, and herself.
A part of the gossip in town is that Manu (Leon Diconca Pelletier) is the father. He’s Magalie’s classmate and the school soccer star. His parents are Chantale (Judith Baribeau) and Jean-Marc (Paul Doucet) and the big reveal is that Jean-Marc is actually the father of the child. He’s been grooming Magalie, having an affair with her, and now he’s going to do anything he can to not let the secret out. This mode of secrecy affects everyone in the community. Chantale loses trust in her husband, while Manu becomes the object of everyone’s blame and scorn. And the relationship between Magalie and her mother is now fractured. A mother unable to get an answer from her daughter and a teenage girl who is in the undoubtedly terrifying reality of being pregnant on her own. There’s no communication, no honesty among these people and because of it Les Notres is incredibly frustrating.
Les Notres is a conflicting film to watch. The direction from Leblanc is excellent. It’s well paced, visually authentic, and generates genuine performances from the entire cast. Where I was lost is in the screenplay, co-written by Leblanc and Baribeau, which constantly lets various characters off the hook. Most of it stems from Magalies stubborn resistance to anyone helping and because of the inactivity to the situation, her pregnancy moves along, and a predator is let off for his disgusting acts.
It’s safe to say that Les Notres is easily one of the most frustrating movies of 2021. The direction from Leblanc is excellent and the performances are good, especially from young Bierre, who plays her role with incredible strength. The problem is the narrative frustrated me from start to finish. There’s no justice in this movie, there’s no accountability for anyone involved in this situation, and because of it everyone suffers, including the audience that watches. I wasn’t asking for a happy ending, but Les Notres allows everyone off the hook. It can’t stand on its own.
LES NOTRES IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON DEMAND FROM OSCILLOSCOPE
Written by: Leo Brady