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|Mon Oncle Antoine - Criterion Collection|
Actors: Jacques Gagnon, Lyne Champagne, Jean Duceppe, Olivette Thibault, Claude Jutra
Director: Claude Jutra
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts
Claude Jutra's evocative portrait of a boy's coming of age in wintry 1940s rural Quebec has been consistently cited by critics and scholars as the greatest Canadian film of all time. Delicate, naturalistic, and tinged with... more »
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Canada's Favorite Uncle Antoine.
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 05/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""There is one terrible thing in this world, and that is that everyone has their reasons"--Jean Renoir.
If ever a film deserved the Criterion treatment, it is this one. Québéc director Claude Jutra's Mon oncle Antoine is not only considered his masterwork, but most critics consider it to be the greatest Canadian film ever. Before making Mon oncle Antoine in 1971, Jutra worked with both François Truffaut and Jean Rouch, whose influences along with Renoir's are evident in this sensitive film. Mon oncle Antoine is a subtle film about profound self-discovery, and as a director Juras has the rare gift of drawing us into that discovery. Set in the rural, Quebec mining town of Black Lake City before the Asbestos Strike of the late 1940s (which resulted in the ministries of Education and Health), the film tells the coming-of-age story of 15-year-old Benoit Poulon (Jacques Gagnon), who simultaneously experiences the love of a young girl, Carmen (Lyne Champagne), and the death of an older brother, after his father (Lionel Villeneuve) quits his job at the asbestos mine, and then abandons his wife (Hélène Loiselle) and five children at Christmas. Young Benoit lives with his aunt Cecile (Olivette Thibault) and uncle Antoine (Jean Duceppe) at the town general store. Uncle Antoine serves as everything from the town notary to the town undertaker. The superb film truly deserves all of the acclaim it has received. In many ways, with its emotional depth, it reminds me of another superb Quebecois film, Jean-Claude Lauzon's Leolo. Unfortunately, Jutra's career as a filmmaker was cut short. After completing Mon oncle Antoine, he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, which prompted him to drown himself (at age 56) in the St. Lawrence River.
The double-disc Criterion edition of Mon oncle Antoine offers an impressive number of extras, including a newly restored high-definition digital transfer supervised by director of photography Michel Brault; "Mon oncle Antoine," a 2007 documentary tracing the making and history of the film; "Claude Jutra: An Unfinished Story," a 2002 documentary by Paule Baillargeon, featuring interviews with Brault, director Bernardo Bertolucci, and actors Geneviève Bujold and Saul Rubinek; "A Chairy Tale," a 1957 experimental short codirected by Jutra and Norman McLaren; the theatrical trailer; and an essay by film scholar André Loiselle.
ONE OF OUR FEW TRUE CLASSICS
ALAIN ROBERT | ST-HUBERT,QUÉBEC | 09/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MON ONCLE ANTOINE is about rural life and the coming of age of a teenage boy whose uncle is an embalmer.Slow moving but immensely rewarding;one can feel the director's tenderness for his characters.The film can be hard to appreciate if you don't speak FRENCH or don't know much about the aspects of rural life in QUEBEC and it's mentality..JUTRA the director, plays a little part in the general store.JEAN DUCEPPE who plays ANTOINE was a very well known actor in QUEBEC;he formed his own theater company in 1973 ... Along the way,the teenage boy also makes his sexual awakening in a funny voyeurism scene in which some women comes to the general store to renew their wardrobes.The film remains the director's most acclaim work.JUTRA sadly died of the ALZHEIMER disease in 1986."
Best film from Canada
S. C. Schweighofer | Vancouver, BC Canada | 09/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Quebec cinema has usually run circles around Anglo-Canadian productions, and this is the cream of the crop. Ageless!"
Mon Oncle Antoine - a "small" classic
Jerry Jancarik Jr. | Pacific Northwest | 02/26/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has consistently been voted as the greatest Canadian film ever made in various critics polls over the years. Revered New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael hailed it as a small masterpiece upon original release but it is the sort of slow, intimate, character-based drama that has never achieved the sort of wide appeal (outside of Canada) that more plot focused films have. Watching some of the supplementary material on the Criterion Collection disc, it is also clear that there are many cultural references in the film that will mean more to a Canadian (particularly a French Canadian) than to other viewers.
The film meanders amiably along, capturing in unhurried pace the life of rural 1940's Quebec, in this case an abestos mining town. The main characters are Benoit, an orphaned boy, the local undertaker Antoine and his assistant Fernand played by the director himself Claude Jutra.
Eventually the film reaches its big set-piece, a long, extended night sequence where Benoit and Antoine (covered in furs) must traverse the icy, snow covered landscape via sled to retrieve the body of a boy who has died at a farmhouse.
The director was hailed as the new savior of Canadian cinema at the time of release, but unfortunately never achieved the level of success later on that he did with this film. He mysteriously disappeared one winter and his body was discovered the following spring after the ice had thawed...a simple note attached, "My name is Claude Jutra"."