NOUVELLE FRANCE (Jean Beaudin). 145 minutes. A Christal Films release. Opens Friday (October 21). Subtitled. For venues and times, see Movies, page 102. Rating: NN Rating: NN
An old-fashioned romance set against the fall of New France to the British, Nouvelle France is beautifully shot with immensely likeable leads. But they're stuck in a weak, blandly told story that runs far too long. Noémie Godin-Vigneau is perfect as Marie-Loup, the idealized peasant widow - sexy, strong-hearted and independent-minded. She and David La Haye as the equally idealized landowner who loves her, sparkle with light erotic tension.
But the crooked seigneur, the priest and the drunk soldier who all want Marie-Loup are stock melodramatic characters. Even that old ham Gérard Depardieu , the priest who betrays the lovers, shows none of the unwholesome urges that have been twisting priests since Matthew Lewis's 1796 gothic novel The Monk.
There's no sex, no one lands any blows in the obligatory fight scene, the fall of New France is reduced to a few British soldiers firing mortars and one explosion that kills an otherwise pointless minor character. The plot turns, signalled well in advance, arrive at a pedestrian pace.
It's a pity director Jean Beaudin (Le Matou) and writer Pierre Billon let the life out of what could have been a terrific movie.