A young woman, living with her parents and siblings on a remote farm in harsh, picturesque northern Québec, has three suitors: a steady and unimaginative farmer, Eutrope, the Americanized ...
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A young woman, living with her parents and siblings on a remote farm in harsh, picturesque northern Québec, has three suitors: a steady and unimaginative farmer, Eutrope, the Americanized and wealthy Lorenzo, who has sought his fortune in Boston, and François Paradis, a rough and virile logger who captures her heart despite the warnings of her parents and the village priest. For a year, marked by seasonal change in an atmosphere charged with the strangeness of Indians and the demons of the woods, we see Maria at work and prayer, struggling with decisions, choosing to stay in Canada, in love with François, seeking to change his rough behaviors, and dealing with extraordinary loss. Written by
A very good film, with a star who seems impossibly beautiful for her character, yet why not? She's archetypal torn between the handsome logger, the solid but dull farmer, and the town dandy, whose characters are interesting and realistic enough to keep them from being stereotypes. She's embedded in this hard farming life in the far north, with a strong father and mother and some lively and interesting younger siblings. The tiny town and its characters figure too, especially the strict but humane priest, trying like all of them to save what seems a doomed, isolated town whose children will inevitably move away.
Life is serious on this frontier, awesomely primal. The darkness of the houses contributes to the sense of harshness, yet the common bond of family, work and survival intensifies the relationships, and the moments of beauty and humor. Gathering blueberries on a warm summer day, wandering off to Maria's favorite spot by a waterfall, a manual gramophone playing The Blue Danube. The logger's neglect of Maria--his failure to write her from his outpost--seems a gap in the story. It at least serves to show her faith in him. The tension over whom she will marry gets turned up. She holds out against advice and temptation. Surprise ending gives food for thought. A beautiful elegy for a dying way of life.
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