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J. A. Martin: Photographe

J. A. Martin, photographe

(J. A. Martin, Photographer)

Year: 1976
Language: French
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 101 min
Director: Jean Beaudin
Producer: Jean-Marc Garand
Writer: Jean Beaudin, Marcel Sabourin
Cinematographer: Pierre Mignot
Editor: Hélène Girard, Jean Beaudin
Sound: Jacques Blain
Music: Maurice Blackburn
Cast: Luce Guilbeault, Colette Courtois, Jacques Bilodeau, Denis Hamel, Catherine Tremblay, Marthe Thierry, Monique Mercure, Guy L'Écuyer, Stéphane L'Écuyer, Marcel Sabourin
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

J.A. Martin, photographe, a brilliantly observed film, is one of the best films ever produced by the NFB. It was a critical and commercial success — especially in Quebec.

J.A. Martin (Sabourin) is a photog­rapher in 19th-century Quebec. All year he covers the local community events except when, once a year, he leaves in his wagon to serve his more remote customers. But this year is different: his defiant wife, Rose�€'Aimée (Mercure), decides to leave their five children at home and accompany Martin, de­spite the scandalized reactions of family and neighbours.

As they travel the nar­row lanes, photographing country weddings and family gatherings, stop­ping at farmhouses and small-town hotels and visiting lumber mills (where they encoun­ter child labour and exploited workers), they rediscover one another and revive a stale, 15�€'year�€'old marriage.

Slow-paced and nearly plotless, the film's evocative staging and imagery are what make it a delight to watch. Both Sabourin and Mercure give extraordinary performances — particularly Mercure, who creates a remarkably convincing portrait of a 19th-century woman quietly but forcefully insisting on her own identity. Her performance won a best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1977.

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