Sunday, April 12, 2015

Les Fleurs Magiques

The only place that you can find Jean-Marc Vallée’s Les Fleurs Magiques on video is at the Cinémathèque québécoise. It’s one of his early short films. What’s so impressive about it is how it anticipates many of his later themes and stylistics. If Vallée speaks about an affinity for Les Bons débarras it's in this film where it’s the most present. If there’s a running theme throughout Vallée’s cinema it is of loving so much that it hurts just like Manon in the film of Francis Mankiewicz. In Les Fleurs Magiques there’s a little boy (Marc-André Grondin; fascinating to see just as a child) who wants to help cure his father from being a drunk. The boy is also really close to his mother, who he admires for her good nature and strong qualities.

Let’s run Les Fleurs Magiques through the Vallée checklist: Good use of classic popular music? Check! A Christian spirituality and a faith in the world? Check! A subjective poetic point-of-view and elliptical editing? Check! Artworks and creation as personal and carthartic? Check! 

So you see all of what makes Jean-Marc Vallée’s work so singular is already there in one of his earliest short-films! I don’t know about you but I’m really impressed.

Also at the Cinémathèque was a Sébastien Raymond photography exhibition Un temps d’acteur which included behind-the-scenes photographs from C.R.A.Z.Y. and Café de Flore. What’s so impressive about these is how they display Vallée’s process, contemplation and precision. In one photograph he’s in a church standing behind Michel Côté and analyzing its rhythm to best direct the scene. In another Côté is standing outdoors by a trailer getting into character before an emotional confrontation with his son. There’s introspection and personal drive that goes into making these works and this comes across through the photographs. The ones of Paris for Café de Flore are especially interesting to see the solitude and intimacy of a Vallée set.

Though Vallée has discussed later expanding Les Fleurs Magiques into a new feature I don’t know if this is necessarily a good idea (even though I’m sure it would still be amazing; it would further align him with the Spielberg of E.T.). By continuing to make new films and tell these new stories he’s multiplying his registers and creating a fascinating larger universe. Les Fleurs Magiques would then be the seed to these beautiful flowers that he’s now creating. Things are blossoming for Vallée.

Hopefully Demolition will play at Cannes or another important fall festival (and get the reviews that it deserves – he was just honored with a Governor General Award which is a good start) and then there’s his Janis Joplin biopic and his adaptation of Dominique Fortier’s Du bon usage des étoiles (which I’m especially looking forward to), which seems like the best reference to capture his ethos. He’s a lone adventurer sailing into the mysteries of the world and more importantly: of the human heart.

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