ENTRE LA MER ET L'EAU DOUCE (Michel Brault). 85 minutes. Subtitles. Opens Friday (November 25) at the Carlton. See Movie Times. Rating: NNN
Quebec's Michel Brault is best known as the cinematographer of classics like Mon Oncle Antoine and Kamouraska, but he's an important director as well.
That's clear from the fascinating rerelease of his fiction feature debut, 1967's Entre La Mer Et L'Eau Douce .
Chosen as the Open Vault selection at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, the poetic black-and-white film resembles a Quebecois Goin' Down The Road.
Small-town singer/songwriter Claude (played by real-life musician Claude Gauthier ) travels to the big bad city, Montreal, where he shacks up with his brother ( Paul Gauthier ), falls in love with a restaurant server ( Geneviève Bujold ) and works at one dead-end job after another until his life changes during a talent competition.
The subtle script, penned by a group that includes Brault, Denys Arcand and Claude Jutra , takes a clear-eyed look at the era's social conditions. Look for the telling observations about immigrant workers, natives and separatism.
But the moody film, punctuated with snippets of Claude's nostalgia-drenched down-home ballads, is chiefly a love story about regret and change. The city can be dehumanizing, but rural life has changed, too. Basically, you can't go home again.
In his trenchcoats and affected rumpledness, Gauthier's a bit too sauve and stylish to be convincing as a country bumpkin, but he's got loads of charisma. So does the young Bujold, who's absolutely heartbreaking in a scene where she clings onto the noncommital Claude.