In The fortuitous scenes, his first feature film, Guillaume Lambert portrayed himself as a young filmmaker in his thirties who was wondering what to do with his life. With niagarahis new dramatic comedy, the actor and director continues in the same existentialist vein by recounting this time the reunion between three brothers in the middle of a midlife crisis.
Nothing is going well in the life of Alain (François Pérusse, in a first big role in the cinema). In addition to being faced with a difficult romantic separation, the man in his fifties has just lost his job as a taekwondo teacher. He was even thinking of ending his life when he received an unexpected phone call from one of his two brothers who told him that their father had died.
With his younger brother, Léo-Louis (Éric Bernier), Alain embarks on a road trip towards Niagara to join the eldest of the siblings, Victor-Hugo (Guy Jodoin), who was at the side of their father (Marcel Sabourin) when the latter had a heart attack in circumstances that were absurd to say the least, while trying to raise the Ice Bucket Challenge.
In interview at LogGuillaume Lambert says he was inspired by several ideas and themes that ran through his head to build the story of niagara. A news item he read a few years ago about people who had died participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge served as the starting point for the script. And then there is the symbolism of the fall which quickly imposed itself and which is ultimately omnipresent in the film and in the quest of the characters.
“The film evokes the fall of someone who falls and who learns to get up,” confides Guillaume Lambert. “Word niagara means roar and thunder of the waters. It inspired me a lot for the inner anger of the characters. I imagined a man in the middle of his life, who finds himself in a situation where he has to think about whether he has made the right choices in his life. It’s also a story where everyone is trying to put the pieces back together. The death of the father causes a chain reaction where everyone takes their place in the family.
Very quickly in his writing process, Guillaume Lambert had the idea of entrusting the character of Alain to comedian François Pérusse. The two artists had already collaborated in the past since the creator of the Two minutes from the people provided the narration for Lambert’s first feature film, The fortuitous scenesreleased in 2018.
“Already, at the time, I found that his voice was magnificent and that he had a beautiful melancholy in his face, relates Guillaume Lambert. When François thinks of nothing, there is so much humanity, wisdom and sadness in his face. It is a gold mine that had not yet been exploited in the cinema.
“I have always been fascinated by ‘anti-casting’”, he adds, citing the examples of Jim Carrey in Head full of sun and Bill Murray in unfaithful translation. “I like to use comedy to reveal people. When you remove a few jokes, there is often humanity that appears.
As in all the screenplays that Guillaume Lambert has written, both for TV (Adulthood, Audrey came back) than for cinema (The fortuitous scenes), niagara oscillates between drama and comedy. The actor and filmmaker also refuses to stick a label on his film, which he has deliberately tinged with kitsch elements in order to “cause a certain nostalgia”.
“I’m not a big believer in genre labels, so I really like putting drama and comedy in places where you don’t expect it,” he admits. It’s part of me to be both funny and sad. I’m not afraid to go into sadness like I’m not afraid to go into humor. I think it brings more complexity to the story and the characters. Using humor allows me to convey the drama better and make it feel more natural.”
niagara hits theaters September 16.