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Bar salon

Bar salon

Year: 1973
Language: French
Format: Super 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 84 min
Director: André Forcier
Producer: André Forcier
Writer: Jacques Marcotte, André Forcier
Cinematographer: François Gill
Sound: Hugues Mignault
Music: Michel McLean
Cast: Guy L'Écuyer, Madelaine Chartrand, Jacques Marcotte, Gélinas Fortin, François Berd, Gaby Persechino, Albert Payette
Production Company: Les Ateliers du Cinéma Québécois Inc., Les Films André Forcier Inc.

A simple but effective tale, Bar salon tells the story of Charles (Guy L'Écuyer), a man in his fifties whose saloon business is losing money and about to go under. Since he cannot pay his employees, his daughter Michèle (Madeleine Chartrand) begins working at a bar in addition to her job as cashier in a fish market. Every evening she serves the few remaining clients: the refined but aging Major Cotnoir (Albert Payette), the vulgar drunk Leslie (François Berd), Michèle’s unambitious, taxing-driving fiancé Robert (Jacques Marcotte) and Julien (Gaby Persechino), whose wife flaunts her affair with a lodger.

Seeking help, Charles turns to his friend Larry (Gélinas Fortin) and finds a new job as manager of a suburban bar. Charles gets involved with a topless dancer from the bar who abandons him and steals his car. He ends up in prison after a drunken brawl and, upon his release, discovers Michèle is getting married and announces the closing of his bar.

The anecdotal structure of Bar salon – acting that ap­pears improvised but isn't, a sense of observation and sympathetic characterizations, a bittersweet comic tone – recalls the earlier works of Milos Forman (Loves of a Blonde, The Fireman’s Ball). Yet André Forcier’s film is as authentically Québécois as Forman’s is Czech. The style of Bar salon, aptly described as neo�€'naturalism, is care­fully calculated. It captures Charles’s world of failure, amorality and hopelessness extraordinarily well.

Bar salon was André Forcier’s first major film and established him as a formidable talent in Quebec cinema at the age of twenty-five. The film was produced independently for $60,000 cash and deferred salaries and was shot on Super 16mm in twenty-seven days. Bar salon received a standing ovation at its preview screen­ing and received wide critical praise upon its release.

By: Peter Morris

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