Official Selection, 2021 Toronto International Film Festival
A teen in rural Quebec must decide her future by choosing one of three suitors, in Sébastien Pilote’s moving adaptation of Louis Hémon’s 1913 novel.
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“Pilote delivers a beautiful film in the tradition of the Quebec canon” –Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail
Sébastien Pilote (The Fireflies Are Gone, which won best Canadian film at TIFF in 2018) adapts Louis Hémon’s beloved 1913 novel Maria Chapdelaine handsomely for the screen. The Chapdelaines are homesteaders in northern Quebec in the early 1900s. Father Samuel (Sébastien Ricard) has little patience for society, leading to a strangely peripatetic, often lonely existence for his long-suffering wife, Laura (Hélène Florent). But important decisions loom involving their daughter Maria (Sara Montpetit), who has reached marrying age.
Three very different suitors come forward: factory worker Lorenzo (Robert Naylor) offers an escape from rural hardship; awkward neighbour Eutrope (Antoine Olivier Pilon) has loved Maria since childhood and will let her remain close to her family; and dashing logger François (Émile Schneider) may offer new frontiers. Whom Maria chooses will have profound implications for her entire family. Pilote and cinematographer Michel La Veaux create a film that is both an elegy and a paean, as reflected in their treatment of the landscape. The rural Quebec depicted here is simultaneously beautiful and unforgiving, especially if one lets down their guard.
This latest film version of Maria Chapdelaine is the closest to its inspiration — and, perhaps not coincidentally, may become the versions others are measured against.