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Léolo
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Reviews & Ratings for
Léolo More at IMDbPro »

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19 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful, unforgettable work of art - but not one for the easily offended

10/10
Author: gogoschka-1 from wherever good films play
22 December 2013

To me, 'Léolo' is like a rare gemstone. A unique, surreal fairytale, which you can look at from many different angles and yet it remains hard to describe. Although there clearly is a structured narrative, I believe this film is more to be felt than understood. While it's often tragic and disturbing, it's also very funny and darkly comic. Somehow fitting for a story inspired by childhood memories, reality and fantasy are seamlessly interwoven to create an often dream-like, sometimes nightmarish atmosphere.

This was only director Jean-Claude Lauzon's second film, and sadly he never got to make more than two; he died in a plane crash while he was preparing his third film.

A beautiful, unforgettable work of art, albeit not one for the easily offended.

My vote: 10 out of 10

Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/

Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/

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41 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Devastating masterpiece.

10/10
Author: Gerald A. DeLuca (italiangerry@gmail.com) from United States
8 August 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Léolo" is one of the best unknown films of the 90's. It is regarded in some quarters as the very best French-Canadian film ever made. It is a triumphant and devastating picture that will leave you haunted by its images and sounds and reflecting on its characters and events for a long time after you see it. The title character is the adolescent Léolo, wondrously played by Montréal's Maxime Collin, who has kind of a cult following among the young there, is the youngest member of a dysfunctional family living in Montréal in the fifties.

His real name is Leon Lauzon, but he mock-Italianizes it to Léolo Lozone, because he wants to be Italian. It is the private escape from family misery for this sensitive youth who loves to read and fantasize. He fantasizes that he was born after his mother had been impregnated by a Sicilian tomato, because an Italian had ejaculated into it. His sister Nanette is near-catatonic, his sister Rita communicates with insects. Daddy administers laxatives to the family members as though he were passing out the Eucharist. He examines his kids' feces in the toilet, just to make sure they have pooped well. They are more in than out of a mental institution.

During the course of the film, young Léolo drools over the buxom Sicilian girl living next door, attempts to kill his grandfather because he blames him for all the family's problems. Big brother Fernand gets into body-building after being roughed-up by a neighborhood bully, but the muscles do not transform his timid coward's heart. The scene where this wimpy Atlas is beaten and humiliated before Léolo's eyes is one of the most poignant scenes I've seen in nearly sixty years of movie-going. Léolo's mother, a corpulent earth-mother, played by French-Canadian singer Ginette Reno, is the only anchor of sanity.

There are scenes in this movie which shock or make us uneasy and the movie caused an uproar in some quarters. We see some childhood sexual experimentation, leather-coated adolescents tormenting a cat in a sick ritual, a prostitute masturbating two young boys in the ruins of a demolished building. Léolo masturbates himself using a piece of liver...which his mom later cooks up for the family dinner.

Out of all this bizarre material, director Jean-Claude Lauzon, who died since the making of this masterpiece, has fashioned a complex, mesmerizing work of art that is semi-autobiographical, and at once a labor of love and virtuosic skill. The acting, the photography, the use of camera movement, the evocative use of an enormous variety of music that includes everything from Buddhist chants to Tom Waits, the thrilling poetic transitions are all of such an imaginative height as to make thousands of other movies from the same period seem puny by comparison. "Léolo" has often been viewed as a kinky comedy. While there are indeed elements of that, it really needs to be seen for what it really is: a shattering family drama of truly lyric force.

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28 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

The most magic of magic realism

Author: fertilecelluloid from Mountains of Madness
31 December 2003

Echoes of the magnificent THE TIN DRUM reverberate through the stunning, lyrical French-Canadian LEOLO.

The late Jean-Claud Lauzon's masterwork filters a dysfunctional family through the eyes of a dreamer who imagines himself to be Italian.

The film is filled with gorgeous cinematic studies of childhood cruelty, sexual abuse, eccentricity, first love, first self-love, insanity, obsession, unusual uses for meat products, and familial bonds.

As Leolo, Maxime Collin is without peer, delivering a truly amazing performance as a young boy on a difficult journey of discovery and exploration.

A wonderful Tom Waits cue anchors the soundtrack and eccentric supporting performances bring vivid color to the drama.

The film is photographed and directed with such amazing precision and passion that you can not help but be propelled by it.

In every sense an original, emotional work, and one of the best films ever made.

An obscure modern classic.

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26 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant and genuinely original.

10/10
Author: brences from Parts Unknown
19 August 2005

I absolutely adore this movie.

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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34 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, beautiful, wistful black comedy.

10/10
Author: Bill Van Dyk from Kitchener, Ontario
17 April 1999

Wonderful sad film about the tragedy of a sensitive soul in conflict with a society that is brutal, vulgar, and obscene. One of the most unusual films ever made-- daring and audacious, and richly rewarding. And the Tom Waits songs on the sound track are just right for this movie: melancholy and off-beat.

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19 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Best Film of 1992

10/10
Author: ColeSear
11 April 2000

I caught this late one night on the Independent film channel i caught the first few minutes and was amazed when i had finally seen the whole thing I loved it rarely have i seen a more poetic or brilliantly told portrait of any person young or old personified on screen the film is French-Canadian but transcends language Maxime Collin's performance is stellar. The voice over narration adds just the right element to the film. It is often funny, dramatic, heart wrenching and odd in the same breath and enjoyable throughout. Leolo is a film that is a rarity and most definitely a can't miss.

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32 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

Holy Sh*t! (for real)

8/10
Author: Travis_Moran from Canada
25 May 2005

I found this movie on a used VHS tape the other day and decided to check it out since it was a Canadian production.

Man, I can't decide whether I love or hate this movie. It's just plain weird! Sometimes it had me laughing (like in the beginning with the tomato, later when Leolo trades his flies for his sister's turd, etc); And then sometimes I was totally grossed out (like the cat scene). And the raw meat incident was sick, then later hilarious when it got served for dinner. There's definitely some "toilet" humour throughout this film.

Almost always I watch movies for enjoyment and I try not to analyse too much because it often spoils my enjoyment. But I've noticed some really deep analysis from previous reviewers regarding this film. And honestly, some of it is way too deep for me. (Maybe I'm the ignorant savage in the art museum.).

I wouldn't really class this movie as a comedy although it has some humorous scenes (very dark humour). I'd say this movie was more like a trip through a mental institution. It is a very haunting movie and I did find myself reflecting on it every so often for a while. It's a thinker for sure. It seemed sensitive, but in a very harsh way.

Acting was very good in my opinion. Any actor who can pull off roles like the ones in this movie has to be good.

Normally, I'm not fond of narration. But for some reason it didn't seem to bother me in this film. It sort of fit in better I guess.

This movie could freak out a lot of people. It's really worth watching, but not for young kids. I gave it 8 out of 10 because it was well acted, made me think on it, and it was certainly unique. Also I respect a person who goes against the flow to make something original.

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13 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Dreamer

10/10
Author: lifeinfilm-1 from United States
28 April 2005

'I loved Fernand for his ignorance...because I dream I am not' I watched Leolo again on IFC few nights ago (after what is now more then ten years when I first saw it in a theater) and realized that this film was one of the catalysts for my entrance into the world of cinema. To be part of the film industry is very much, I believe, to dream big. The moment I stop dreaming I would seize to exist. Like Leolo said 'because I don't dream, I am not'. An essential tool for dreaming may be the hardship in having to deal with misunderstood reality. Or possibly being misunderstood all together. Psychological torment and trying to make sense out of situations we find ourselves in, status quo, or sympathy for the world which regardless of our actions keeps going it's own path leaves an artist in constant turmoil. I feel i have so much in common with Leolo that I fear of my own 'death' as a dreamer. Still, just seeing 'Leolo' gives comfort and lesson that once you stop dreaming...life of an artist seizes to exist. Thank you for once again showing me the path.

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16 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

unique storytelling

10/10
Author: vincenzo el diablo from New Zealand
7 January 2005

Leolo is an amazingly well made story of a boy filled with dreams named Leolo. His family is disturbed in many different ways from phecophilliac parents to muscle obsessed brothers. the unique aspect of this movie is it's use of fragmented time and it's non causal narrative. it has moments of sheer hilarity and heavy emotional impact. the characters are all incredibly well drawn unique and believable. Warning some scenes are not for the weak hearted as one scene in particular can really effect you for a couple of days unless of course you hate cats. I don't want to give too much away but this is an absolute must see. You may regret seeing this but it's worth whatever irrepareable mental problems.

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19 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

GUMMO part 0

2/10
Author: Maciste_Brother from the rock
8 April 2004

I saw GUMMO before LEOLO, which is why I'm calling this review GUMMO part 0.

And I have to say that what struck me first while watching LEOLO is the similarities between both films: a kid surrounded by crazy people. Cats being abused. Obsession with bodily functions, etc. GUMMO director Harmony Korine was probably "inspired" to do GUMMO after seeing LEOLO. With that said, I have to say I dislike LEOLO as much as GUMMO. Both films are intellectually phony. I didn't believe the characters and situations in LEOLO for one second. Yes, the late director might have said that LEOLO was inspired by events in his childhood but end result still feels/sounds hollow. Scenes of the kid writing in his journal while the crazy things happen around him made me laugh. The end result of the movie is like a narcissistic mobius strip: kid writing journal in his youth. As an adult, kid decides to make movie about him writing in his journal. On and on it goes.

The characters are (ugly) caricatures. None of the people inhabiting this film are real. Pure tokenism. Things aren't helped much by the fact that most of the "actors" can't act. Only the young kid (director) is shown to be normal or intelligent. Because of this, the film ends up being mean-spirited and self-indulgent. Just like GUMMO.

LEOLO and GUMMO would make a great double feature for masochists of phony cinema.

If you want to see a great Canadian movie about a kid and her dysfunctional family, watch LES BONS DEBARRAS instead. The Francis Mankiewicz film is filled with real poetic moments, amazing writing and excellent acting.

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