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Les Êtres chers – The Sensitive Ones

“Les Êtres chers” – Anne Émond

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Family dynamics are often observed in fiction through the prism of crisis, operating like a magnifying glass on underlying emotions and behaviors. With her second feature film, an ambitious saga that follows a family for no less than two decades, Quebec filmmaker Anne Émond only partially takes this approach. Granted, Les Êtres chers opens with the gruesome vision of a young man untying the corpse of his father whom he has just found hanged in the family house’s barn. And yes, a seed of rancor will grow from the reading of the old man’s will, as he singles out another of his five children, David (Maxim Gaudette), as the recipient of his puppetry tools.

What is so special about David? Why do his close ones go out of their way to preserve him, going as far as hiding the truth about their father’s death? Do they fear that he might have “inherited” the same suicidal tendencies? “You’re sensitive”, his sister explains to him. And indeed, David’s sadness feels very much like despair, and happy moments may seize him too intensely. Of course, he would be the kind who falls in love at first sight and who would spoil his daughter (the charming Karelle Tremblay).

To portray the ups and downs of this very loving (and lovable) family, Anne Émond demonstrates a sure talent to translate precise emotions into dramatic language. Alternating warm interiors and majestic outdoor landscapes, the film was shot by Mathieu Laverdière, the cinematographer of Locarno’s Prix du Public in 2013, Gabrielle. Another quest for happiness against seemingly predetermined odds, waving high the banners of sincerity and courage. 

Aurélie Godet

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