Denys Arcand’s 1973 film Réjeanne Padovani is the jewel in the Quinzaine crown.
REJEANNE PADOVANI (Denys Arcand). 94 minutes. Subtitled. Screens Tuesday (December 2) as part of Cinematheque's Director's Fortnight series. See Indie & Rep listings.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the Cannes festival's Director's Fortnight series, Cinematheque Ontario has scoured its archives for a treasure trove of Quinzaine premieres.
The prize of the series is Denys Arcand's 1973 drama Réjeanne Padovani, a scalding indictment of the Québécois bourgeoisie that's hardly ever screened in English Canada - or in its home province, for that matter.
The film follows the upstairs-downstairs action at a Montreal dinner party, as upper-class string-pullers discuss the imminent opening of a lucrative new highway while their assembled security details are served stubbies by a pair of attractive barmaids in the basement. Complications arise when news breaks that one player's long-absent ex-wife has been spotted in a downtown restaurant with her new husband, a member of the Jewish Mafia.
Arcand examines the various strata of corruption and loathing with a Buñuelian bluntness, gently but insistently taking us further and further into the ethical morass until even murder seems like just another practical solution in a fixer's toolbox.
The Quinzaine program runs until December 9. Other worthy screenings include Don Owen's The Ernie Game (Sunday, November 30, at 6 pm; rating: NNNN), Robert Bresson's The Devil, Probably (Wednesday, December 3, at 8:45 pm; rating: NNNN) and Jacques Rivette's Céline And Julie Go Boating (December 7 at 3 pm; rating: NNNNN).