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Les Fleurs Sauvages

(Wild Flowers)

Year: 1982
Language: French
Format: 16mm/35mm Colour/Black & White
Runtime: 152 min
Director: Jean Lefebvre
Producer: Marguerite Duparc
Writer: Jean Lefebvre
Cinematographer: Guy Dufaux
Editor: Marguerite Duparc
Sound: Claude Hazanavicius
Music: Claude Fonfrede, Jean Corriveau, Raoul Duguay
Cast: Marthe Nadeau, Pierre Curzi, Éric Beauséjour, Georges Bélisle, Michel Viala, Sarah Mills, Michèle Magny, Claudia Aubin

Seventy-year-old Simone (Marthe Nadeau) leaves her old-age home in the city to visit the country home of her daughter MichPle (MichPle Magny), a potter who lives with her second husband, Pierre (Pierre Curzi), and her two children (Claudia Aubin, Éric Beauséjour), one from each marriage. Though mother and daughter love each other, their relationship has always been strained by MichPle’s rejection of the stereotypical roles of wife and mother embraced by Simone. During Simone’s week-long stay, the five characters share the same space and voice their generational differences as they attempt a more open exchange.

Lefebvre’s gently comic and touching portrait of human relations was shot in an idyllic landscape on a characteristically modest budget in only fifteen days, reflecting his opinion that repeated takes add unnecessary financial burdens and take away artistic spontaneity (he rarely shoots more than two or three takes of a scene). Made at a time when he was feeling very discouraged about the filmmaking process, Les Fleurs sauvages represents an attempt to infuse his work with a sense of optimism, taking a positive and constructive look at the issues that can hamper communication between generations.

The film proposes no solution, but instead seeks to stimulate thought. Allowing his audience space for reflection, Lefebvre employs various techniques to involve them intellectually and emotionally; particularly effective is his restaging of several scenes in black and white to evoke what might have happened had the characters been able to break through the communication barriers between them.

Les Fleurs sauvages possesses the emotional depth and naturalness typical of Lefebvre’s work. It won critical praise for its visual prowess and lush composition, which often feels closer to painting than photography. Cited for "its tenderness and warmth, its poetry and family concerns," the film won the FIPRESCI Award from the international critics at the Festival de Cannes. It is dedicated to Marguerite Duparc, Lefebvre’s wife, editor and long-time producing partner, who died of cancer shortly after she completed editing the film.

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