With his second feature film, premiered on Thursday at the opening of the Quebec City Film Festival (FCVQ), Guillaume Lambert offered himself a nostalgic journey “marked with tenderness”, he says. Starring François Pérusse, Katherine Levac and Véronic Dicaire in their first roles on the big screen, it is also, for the director, a resolutely kitsch and personal work.
“I wanted to make a film about nostalgia”, declares the director from the outset. His nostalgic gaze colors every aspect of the film, from the kitsch and colorful treatment of the Niagara Falls region, to the choice of actors, to the narrative itself.
niagara tells, in chapters, the story of three brothers who find themselves, at the end of a trip between Quebec and Niagara Falls, for the funeral of their father (Marcel Sabourin), who died of a heart attack during an Ice Bucket challenge. His memory comes to revive regrets and conflicts within the siblings, who had moved away over the years.
Guillaume Lambert sees his film as an amalgamation of ideas he had been contemplating for a long time, glued together through meetings with his actors and meditations on falls, in every sense of the term.
“I imagined a man [l’un des frères] who falls to get up better, then Niagara Falls appeared. Niagara also means “thunder of the waters”, so I wanted to represent characters who repress their anger. I’ve also always been fascinated by absurd deaths, and what could be more absurd than Ice Bucket Challenge deaths, which are a real phenomenon. From one idea to another, everything fell into place,” he says.
Two characters in particular suppress their anger in the film. They are brothers Alain (François Pérusse) and Léo-Louis (Éric Bernier), who travel together to Niagara to join their older brother, Victor-Hugo (Guy Jodoin), who is waiting for them at his home, where their father is dead. The contrast between Alain, a fallen taekwondo teacher, and Léo-Louis, a wealthy, pretentious “risk manager”, is marked by an absurd humor that we know well from Guillaume Lambert.
“The Perusse Effect”
niagara is also intended to be a deeply personal work for the 38-year-old director, who says he has brought together actors “important for his generation”.
“I chose actors who represent something for me. There is Marie Eykel, known for Master keyEric Bernier, for All on meGuy Jodoin, for In a galaxy near you. Marcel Sabourin is also a living legend of Quebec cinema, ”he lists.
François Pérusse, in his first film role, however, steals the show. Narrator of Fortuitous scenesthe first feature film by Guillaume Lambert, the creator of 2 minutes from the people inspired the director all the more for this new film.
“I had a real desire to offer François Pérusse a first major dramatic role in the cinema. He means a lot to my generation. There is a Pérusse effect, people have a fascination for him, ”says the director.
François Pérusse claims to have been “very flattered, from the start, by Guillaume’s interest” in his work, and to have been “very well supervised”, in this experience which “frightened him at the beginning”.
Also in their first roles on the big screen, Katherine Levac and Véronic Dicaire embody in the film flamboyant Francophone Ontarians – or Francophiles, it is not explained – that the two brothers cross on their way.
“It was stimulating to be able to transform so much. With Katherine, we also had to agree on an accent that would suit both of us, it was very funny, ”says Véronic Dicaire. The impersonator, who plays Stacy, mother of Penelope (Katherine Levac), is unrecognizable.
A kitsch that “feels good”
With niagaraGuillaume Lambert takes his approach to colorful production even further, marked by rapid editing and references from popular culture.
“I wanted to bear witness to a postcard that had yellowed a little, and I thought that Niagara was the ideal place for a fallen family. It’s the place we visited with the family in the 1980s. I wanted kitsch, because kitsch is good, ”says the director.
Be careful, however, Guillaume Lambert does not necessarily want to laugh at Niagara. He is “wary” of the comedy label that could be attached to his film: “I love kitsch, but never too happy, I like to make it sad. I also really like things that look light on the surface, but carry a certain depth at the same time. »