The stoic patriarch of a Quebec farmstead makes a dramatic sacrifice on behalf of his daughter in this poignant sophomore feature from filmmaker Sébastien Pilote (The Salesman).
In the span of a few short years, Sébastien Pilote has quietly emerged as one of the most important new voices in Quebec feature cinema, with films that evoke the wisdom and control of much more experienced directors. His remarkable short Dust Bowl Ha! Ha!, which screened at the Festival in 2007, laid bare the themes he would tackle in his longer work. Exploring the fractured masculinities of working class men in economically depressed rural Quebec, Pilote crafts poignant family dramas about loss, setting them within a region struggling to hold on to its past.
In his latest film Le Démantèlement, rugged sheep farmer Gaby (Gabriel Arcand) stoically tends to the quotidian needs of his isolated family farm, watching as his neighbours sell off theirs. One day, his eldest daughter, Marie (Lucie Laurier), arrives from the city and announces she is getting a divorce. Oblivious to her father's own financial constraints, she asks him for a large loan so she can keep her home. Gaby agrees to help his daughter, then, without telling her, sets out to sell his farm, dismantling the only life he has ever known.
Seeing the beautiful pastoral landscape,
dappled in golden sunshine and warmly
captured on film, makes the undoing of the farm all the more sorrowful. Arcand
delivers a subtle, moving performance as
Gaby, a flurry of emotions passing across
his eyes. Like its protagonist, who is caught
between his past and his uncertain future,
Le Démantèlement looks both backwards
and forwards. Loosely inspired by King
Lear and Le Père Goriot, Pilote seems to
tenderly channel the spirit of Quebec's
ethnographic filmmaking of the sixties and
seventies (Michel Brault, Pierre Perrault,
Claude Jutra), while examining the changing
state of rural Quebec in the wake of its
vanishing agrarian legacy.
AGATA SMOLUCH DEL SORBO