Inspired by Robert Bresson’s classic Mouchette, the new film from Catherine Martin (Trois temps après la mort d’Anna, L’esprit des lieux) follows a teenage girl who flees an unbearable home life for the rugged beauty of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula.

Contemporary World Cinema

Une Jeune Fille (A journey)

Catherine Martin

In the opening scenes of Catherine Martin's affecting and resonant Une jeune fille (A journey), teenager Chantal (Ariane Legault) loses her ailing mother, her sole confidante. The death leaves Chantal, the only breadwinner in the family, alone with her father, a man more interested in living off her than caring for her. Faced with this untenable situation, Chantal flees their bleak apartment on the side of a highway for the rugged, isolated Gaspé Peninsula. Her only point of reference is a photo of a bluff where her mother played as a child. During her wanderings, she meets Serge (actor/musician Sébastien Ricard), a quiet man in his thirties struggling to hang on to his family farm despite his sister's frequent pleas to sell it. Pushed together by circumstance, these two habitual loners endeavour to create a home together.

Reminiscent of Agnès Varda's Vagabond and directly inspired by Robert Bresson's classic Mouchette, Une jeune fille is breathtakingly beautiful in the way it captures the ominous glory of the region, as well as in its depiction of Chantal and Serge, two obdurate types who never had much time for others but somehow find a kindred spirit in one another. Few films capture the loneliness and difficulty of surviving in a harsh landscape in such a tactile manner. When Chantal wanders the Gaspé, spending her last bits of change on food, we practically feel her hunger pangs. Legault and Ricard are equally adept at conveying the anguish at the heart of their characters.

Before he began making films, the American writer-director Paul Schrader wrote a tract about the transcendental style in films, a way of filmmaking that suggested a sense of the holy, a purpose to life — a destiny — that couldn't be adequately articulated but was felt nonetheless. When at her peak, as she is here, Martin displays that very awareness, and the awe that accompanies it, while acknowledging the grief it sometimes takes to awaken us to it.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

Screenings

Fri Sep 06

Scotiabank 8

Industry
7:00pm
Sat Sep 07

Jackman Hall

Regular
6:00pm
Sun Sep 08

Scotiabank 10

Regular
9:00pm
Thu Sep 12

Scotiabank 10

Industry
3:45pm
Sat Sep 14

Jackman Hall

Regular
12:45pm