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Gilles meets Guylaine on a beach. He's a bookish scholar with glasses; she's a waitress in a blue-collar bar in a rough part of Montreal. Gilles comes for a visit... Guylaine's brother Bob works for the brutal gangster Matroni. Two toughs have hijacked a tractor-trailer full of stolen car parts that Matroni was about to deliver to an even worse gangster, Boyd. Boyd is very dangerous and he wants those parts. Guylaine's friend Linda knows the hijackers and has left their names with her mum in a letter. The thugs have gotten to Bob and beaten him up, so that means only one person can take the letter to Matroni at his autowrecking yard, polite and courteous Gilles... Written by
Stage Based Screenplay Cleverly And Wittily Expanded Into A Very Fine French-Canadian Film.
A stage play by Alexis Martin, who retools it with expertise for the screen, and who is featured here in the leading role, while additionally sharing the screen writing function with first-time director Jean-Philippe Duval, is the source for this pleasing effort that benefits from top-notch performances by the principal players who ably interpret the script's satiric content. Martin is cast as Gilles, a PH.D. candidate whose somewhat dark thesis postulates the death of God, and who is occupied with reviewing his opus while strolling upon the beachfront at Ogunquit, Maine, whereupon he meets an attractive sunbathing vacationer, Guylaine (Guylaine Tremblay), with whom he leaves a strongly attractive impression, stemming from his superior intellectual propensity, an accurately founded opinion as the scenario will depict. Following Guylaine's return to her apartment in Montreal and to her job as barmaid in that city, an infatuated Gilles eagerly goes there to woo a not unwilling target of his affection, but before the pair's unconventional personality blend can be consummated, her thuggish brother Bob (Gary Boudreault) is soundly beaten by rival hoodlums outside of his sister's residence, incapacitating him, although not enough to seriously weaken his threateningly persuasive insistence that Gilles must hand deliver a written notation from Bob to his boss, a local gangster chieftain, the titular Matroni. Gilles feels obligated to do so, because of his feelings for Guylaine; curiosity overcomes him and he peruses the letter, discovering therein that two named men, if revealed to Matroni, have been slated for death due to their perceived offenses committed against him and his set, but rather than wisely ignoring this information, he decides to confront an intensely personal crisis (conveying a message that will bring a violent end to others) by examining his moral and ethical principles in conversation with a callous Matroni who is not remotely stirred by philosophical positions. The crime kingpin, acted with brio by Pierre Lebeau, is headquartered in a fortresslike junkyard, and it is here that he endeavours to deflect the theoretical speculations of his wispy visitor, partly with a certain amount of self-mockery, while venturing to frighten Gilles into revealing the two mentioned names. The latter, however, has at this same time augmented his portion of courage in his efforts to obtain a guarantee of safety for Guylaine from gangster-connected activities. She wishes to attend a college, primarily in order to more readily communicate on an intellectual level with her new swain, and Bob's employment by Matroni clearly presents hazards, including potential loss of life and limb for those even remotely connected with the gangster leader. Lashings of peculiar episodes constitute the remainder of a narrative that is quite well pointed by a talented cast including Pierre Curzi, who joins the plot line during its later scenes, as the lawyer father of Gilles while the latter is striving to gain a respite from the dangers that keep increasing about him. Martin's play is smoothly converted by a free adaptation into cinema and features interesting locations and incidents that include an intriguing car chase comprised of left turns only. Director of photography André Turpin utilises a good many tricks of his trade, such as split screens, freeze frames, et alia. Urban settings in combination with immediacy of the storyline aid in maintaining a high rate of interest for viewers. In spite of the film's local flavour (shot at Montreal), the piece was received in only lukewarm fashion within Quebec, but is definitely worthy of attention from cinéastes, as it is abounding with all three essential elements of humour (incongruity, irony, and the surreal).
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