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Young Leo Lauzon is torn between two worlds - the squalid Montreal tenement that he inhabits with his severely dysfunctional (and largely insane) family, and the imaginative world that he constructs for himself through his writings, where he's Leolo Lozone, son of a Sicilian peasant (conceived in a bizarre act involving a tomato). And his experiences of growing up (especially his sexual development) affect his response to both these worlds... Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I first saw it with a group of friends at the local college town art cinema when it was first released. When it ended, hardly anyone in the theater even stirred, slowly and quietly rising only after the credits ran out. Afterwards, we went for drinks, as had been the plan for the evening, but it took a long time for us to break out of the film's spell and begin to really talk. When we finally did, each of us was relieved to find that everyone else had been as moved by it as each had individually.
The reason for all this doubt and anxiety, I believe, is the film itself. It doesn't rely on any conventions at all, nor does it allow the viewer to respond via convention. What it does do is provide the viewer with an intensely private view of the characters. You get to see them in broad daylight at times and on occasions where one would most want to be absolutely alone. Because of this willingness to really expose its characters, a more honest self-relation is demanded in response and for a response. (In this respect in reminds me a bit of Milan Kundera's novels, during the reading of which I often find myself embarrassed for the characters that I am there intruding on their privacy.) I think what myself and my friends (then still young adults) feared was revealing something about ourselves--a kind of fragility and ambivalence in one's own self-relation that one normally represses, but which this film repeatedly draws to the surface. Wouldn't admitting that one was moved by these characters be also an admission that one could relate to them in some more profound way? Yes, and I have felt just a little bit less alone in the world since seeing Leolo. Not better perhaps, but less alone.
A truly great, great movie. Rent it on VHS, grab a Canadian DVD off of Ebay, or pester IFC to show it again (record it because you'll want to see it again), but don't miss it.
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