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20h17 rue Darling (2003)

This is the story of Gerard, a man who miraculously survived an explosion that destroyed his apartment and killed a lot of people. During the next few days he tries to find out why he survived and others died.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zhenhu Han ...
Le Chinois (as Zenhu Han)
Markita Boies ...
Madame Caron
Michel Mongeau ...
Le policier
Micheline Bernard ...
Madame Laperrière
Louis Bélanger ...
Le caméraman
Louis Sincennes ...
Le chef pompier
Un pompier (as Alexandre Bisping)
Claude Lemieux ...
Le chauffeur des sinistrés
Yvon Roy ...
Cédric Pépin ...
Vincent Bilodeau ...
Lieutenant Geoffrion


A former journalist, three times divorced, Gerard is now a member of Alcoholics Anonymous who lives in a small apartment on Darling Street. By a combination of circumstances, he isn't home when his building explodes one evening, causing the death of six people. Moved by the fact that he has escaped death, Gerard finds his old journalistic instincts returning and decides to research his dead neighbors' past to understand what occured, but also to give meaning to this terrible event. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

4 April 2003 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

8:17 p.m. Darling Street  »

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User Reviews

Melancholic, Québécois masterpiece - ideal for French-language students
26 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

This film follows its lead character, Gérard (actor Luc Picard), an alcoholic, former journalist, as he struggles to make sense of a tragic explosion that killed nearly all the neighbors in his apartment building, including a little girl named Josie. The cause: unknown - even to a veteran fire inspector poking through the rubble. So Gérard sets off on his own investigation, seeking out numerous local characters who fill him in with what bits and pieces they have.

The question the keeps recurring is: "Why? Why me? Why did I survive?" In retrospective monologues, Gérard looks upon himself as a 'drunken no-good', deserving least to survive, while innocent little Josie is dead. Though Gérard is estranged from God, he seems to invoke his judgment at every turn. This feels quite Catholic despite the character's cynicism and disavowal of religion, and it also seems to capture a certain AA mindset very well. The characters are such that one can easily be drawn in and sympathize.

Montreal's Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district is exactly as it is. The characters bring it to life, and reveal a culture in an intimate way that an outsider might never otherwise know. It's fascinating; many details give it depth. The spoken French is the local joual, for the most part quite warm. Fortunately, for an anglo trying to master Québécois French, this film is close-captioned in French (rare, I've found, for French films –especially Québécois films - as they often don't have the budget for close-captioning). So, one is able to follow the French word-for-word. Of course it has the standard optional English subtitles.

This is my favorite Québécois film - actually one of my favorite films, ever. I've enjoyed it many times. Qualities that keep drawing me back to it again and again are its haunting musical theme (piano, violin and cello), scenes of Montreal, portrayal of characters who have the capacity to really grow on you, and of course the ongoing, soul-searching monologues - invaluable for mastering an ear for Québécois French.

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