Maria Chapdelaine (2021)

  • Contemporary World Cinema, Drama
  • 2h 38m
  • Canada

Louis Hémon’s beloved 1913 romance novel Maria Chapdelaine is handsomely, lovingly adapted to the screen by award-winning filmmaker Sébastien Pilote, whose last film, The Fireflies Are Gone, won best Canadian film at TIFF in 2018. The Chapdelaines live on a remote farm in northern Quebec in the early 1900s. Father Samuel (Sébastien Ricard) has little patience for society, moving when anyone comes too close, which has led to a strangely peripatetic existence for his long-suffering wife Laura (Hélène Florent) and their children. But as the film opens, some decisions are going to have to be made, most involving Maria (Sara Montpetit), who has reached marrying age.

Three very different suitors have come forward, each representing a distinct path for Maria. Lorenzo Surprenant (Robert Naylor), who has taken a factory job in the US, offers Maria wealth and an escape from rural hardship. Shy and awkward Eutrope Gagnon (Antoine Olivier Pilon), the next-door neighbour and fellow homesteader who has loved Maria since they first met, will let her remain close to her family. Dashing logger François Paradis (Émile Schneider), meanwhile, seems to promise her the best of both worlds. Whom Maria chooses, and the factors influencing her, will have serious implications for her entire family.<

Pilote and cinematographer Michel La Veaux create a film that’s part elegy and part paean, as reflected in their treatment of the landscape. The rural Quebec depicted here is simultaneously beautiful and unforgiving, especially if one presumes anything or lets down their guard. In the first sequence, on a trip back from a nearby village, Maria and her father are crossing a picturesque frozen lake when they both realize the ice is melting and the family will be on its own for several months. This latest and best version of Maria Chapdelaine respects the family’s determination in the face of hardship, while mourning their heartbreaking losses.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

Cinematographer

Michel La Veaux

Producer

Pierre Even

Producer

Sylvain Proulx

Production Companies

Item 7, Multipix

Production Designer

Jean Babin

Author of Original Work

Louis Hémon

Screenwriter

Sébastien Pilote

Composer of Original Score

Philippe Brault

Canadian Distributor

MK2 Mile End

Primary External Publicist

Communications Mingotwo

International Sales Agent

Wazabi Films

Language

French

Captions

English

Programme presented by
Sun Life