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A Quebecois Elvis impersonator is disillusioned to find a Chinaman participating in an Elvis contest. He later takes his wife on vacation to the island of Santa Banana. Written by
Thomas McWilliams <email@example.com>
In Québec, it is now common to hear people use one-liners such as "Ils l'ont-tu l'affaire, les amaricains!" ("Aren't they the best, these americans!") That these pearls of wisdom made it into Quebec's popular culture gives one an idea of the impact that this low-budget movie has had. Technically very limited and consisting in a series of short sketches, "Elvis Gratton" is easy to dismiss as a bad taste, slapstick film. But for anyone familiar with Quebec's culture and political situation, this is a delightful, intelligent movie. Robert "Elvis" Gratton, the main character, represents everything that is ugly, stupid and vulgar in Québec; in that way he shows us what the typical québécois resembles when portrayed in the worst possible light. Apart from his ultra-kitsch and ugly side (the main source of comical moments in the movie), Gratton has an ignorant, racist and sexist side that, combined with his pro-american/business ideology, makes us think about what effects cultural imperialism has had in Quebec. The fact that Gratton can only define himself through his impersonation of Elvis Presley shows how shallow he is and to what extent his lack of sense of identity has made him a pathetic figure: see the scene in the plane where he and his wife Linda try to explain to a frenchman that they are québecois: "We are french-canadians from North America, No, frenchmen from Canada. No, québécois that speak french. No, rather..." It's the old québécois identity crisis summarized in one scene.
The director's obvious political leanings towards the Québec independence option will make more that one canadian viewer cringe his teeth (providing he can understand the strong québécois slang used in the movie), but you can be assured that here in Québec we rarely have the opportunity of seeing such an efficient attack on the federalist (canadian unity) side. Of course, it's by the way of a slapstick movie, but as a political tool it has proven more efficient than thousands of speeches. Propaganda can be used on both sides, and viewed in that light "Elvis Gratton" takes a wholly different dimension. It is interesting to see that the director Falardeau has recently taken a different approach to "spread his message", by the way of a historical piece on the 1837-1838 rebellions in Lower Canada. But for pure entertainment, "Elvis Gratton" rules. Go Teddy Bear!
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