Though a boy's coming of age has been given innumberable screen treatments, MY UNCLE ANTOINE must rank as one of the best of the genre. Gagnon is a 14-year-old orphan living in a small French Canadian mining town during the 1940s. Under the care of aunt and uncle Thibault and Duceppe, who
run the local general store, Gagnon participates in the annual Christmas celebration by flirting with Champagne, his foster sister, but the adults put a stop to this. That evening the townspeople gather at the store for the annual holiday gathering. A phone call interrupts the festivities when
Loiselle needs Duceppe's services. (In addition to running the store, he is also the local undertaker.) Loiselle's son has just died, and with her husband away at a logging camp, she needs the man to remove the body. Gagnon accompanies his uncle on the sleigh ride to the home. On the way back, the
old man reflects on his life while slowly getting drunk. The sleigh goes out of control and the casket falls off. Since his uncle is too drunk to help recover it, Gagnon must rush back to the store for help. There he finds his aunt and a store clerk locked in a tight embrace. The clerk (Jutra)
goes to help, but they discover the casket missing. Arriving at the deceased boy's home, Gagnon looks through the window and sees the family sadly standing over the body. Apparently the father had found the body and taken it back home. Gagnon is left alone with his thoughts, learning much about
human nature and its foibles on this Christmas Eve.
This sad heart-felt drama avoids cliches and shows genuine sensitivity for its subject. Gagnon carries his load well, giving the kind of sincere performance that other actors take years to achieve. The story had some basis in truth. Screenwriter Perron had grown up in the French Canadian mining
areas and used his childhood memories to fashion the screenplay. The direction, though for the most part strong, has an annoying predilection for the zoom lens, using it more often than needed. Occasionally the zooming defeats its own purpose, imposing false drama where it should simply have
allowed characters and actions to speak for themselves. Overall, though, this is a beautiful piece and took the Gold Hugo at the 1971 Chicago Film Festival.
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- Released: 1971
- Rating: NR
- Review: Though a boy's coming of age has been given innumberable screen treatments, MY UNCLE ANTOINE must rank as one of the best of the genre. Gagnon is a 14-year-old orphan living in a small French Canadian mining town during the 1940s. Under the care of aunt an… (more)