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Lost Song

Year: 2008
Language: French
Format: 35mm/Colour
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Rodrigue Jean
Producer: Rodrigue Jean, François Landry
Cinematographer: Mathieu Laverdière
Editor: Mathieu Bouchard-Malo
Sound: Gilles Corbeil, Martin Allard, Hugo Brochu, Luc Boudrias
Cast: Suzie LeBlanc, Patrick Goyette, Ginette Morin, Louise Turcot, Marilou Longpré Pilon
Production Company: Transmar Films
Production Designer: Simon Guilbault

Lost Song is writer-director Rodrigue Jean’s graceful and deeply unsettling feature about a couple’s struggle with postpartum depression. Pierre (Patrick Goyette) and Elisabeth (Suzie LeBlanc) drive to the country to stay with his mother after the birth of their first child. It was a difficult delivery, evidenced by Elisabeth’s extended illness and the visible tension on their faces. The still unnamed infant is restless, refusing to breast-feed and unable to sleep. The anxious new parents are at a loss, and when Pierre has to return to work, he leaves Elisabeth to care for their child alone. Frustrated, Elisabeth leaves the baby with her overly attentive mother-in-law Louise (Ginette Morin) and spends time with her youthful neighbor Naomi (Marilou Longpré Pilon). Pierre misses the signs of Elisabeth’s emotional state, and instead unknowingly worsens the situation. When the pressure mounts to finally baptize the baby, Elisabeth takes desperate and devastating action.

Long Song is intimate and disquieting as it exposes the wound in Patrick and Elisabeth’s relationship. It is obvious that something is not right from the very beginning, and their failure to acknowledge the cause is representative of a larger cultural amaurosis. Lost Song encapsulates the shame and denial associated with this illness within society and uses the example of one family’s struggles with postpartum depression to break the silence that has surrounded the issue in Western culture for too long.

Employing a minimalist, observational aesthetic, reminiscent of Kieślowski’s The Decalogue, Lost Song is, at times, a claustrophobic reflection of the emotions of the characters. Jean has a subtle, naturalistic style and the performances from Goyette and Leblanc (a classically trained singer in her first film role) sustain the sense of realism. The rural setting provides both allusive depth and visual splendor to the film’s landscape, heightening the mood of isolation while establishing a fittingly foreboding atmosphere for the eventual catastrophe. Brave and vital cinema, examining a reality seldom confronted onscreen with deep emotional understanding, Lost Song premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the award for best Canadian feature film.

By: Jesse Wente