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Being at Home with Claude

Year: 1992
Language: French
Format: 35mm Colour/Black & White
Runtime: 85 min
Director: Jean Beaudin
Producer: Louise Gendron, Doris Girard
Executive Producer: Robert Lantos
Writer: Jean Beaudin
Cinematographer: Thomas Vamos
Editor: André Corriveau
Sound: Marcel Pothier, Michel Charron
Music: Richard Grégoire
Cast: Roy Dupuis, Johanne-Marie Tremblay, Jean-François Pichet, Hugo Dubé, Nathalie Mallette, Jacques Godin, Gaston Lepage
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada, Les Productions du Cerf

On a hot summer night in Montreal, two young men are having sweaty, grunting sex on the linoleum floor of a tiny kitchen, surrounded by the remains of what might have been a romantic dinner. Yves (Roy Dupuis) is an acid-spiked prostitute addicted to sex and constant cruising. Claude (Jean-François Pichet) is a student and promising young writer from a respected family. As the fury of their orgasms builds, Yves grabs a butcher knife from the floor and slashes Claude’s throat open. Three days later, Yves has turned himself in and is undergoing gruelling police interrogation, attempting to explain his motivations for this brutal, apparently senseless killing.

Jean Beaudin, director of such acclaimed films as J.A. Martin photographe (1976), Cordélia (1979) and Mario (1984), provides a fine example of a successful, intelligent stage-to-screen adaptation. This haunting film preserves the power and integrity of René-Daniel Dubois’s controversial 1985 play; exquisitely filmed black-and-white flashback sequences illuminate the passionate desires underlying Claude and Yves’s star-crossed love affair. Roy Dupuis delivers a chillingly astute interpretation of Yves, moving from self-defensive terror to self-pitying intimacy with seamless ease.

Being at Home with Claude is unquestionably shocking, but equally moving; it succeeds in bringing us to a universal precipice and invites us to peer momentarily into the lonely void of an unimaginable future. The film was, for the most part, very well received by critics, but failed to resonate at the box office in English Canada. Though nominated for nine Genie Awards, its only prize was for Richard Grégoire’s music score.

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