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Le Temps de l’avant

(Before the Time Comes)

Year: 1975
Language: French
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 88 min
Director: Anne Poirier
Producer: Anne Poirier
Writer: Marthe Blackburn, Anne Poirier, Louise Carré
Cinematographer: Michel Brault
Editor: Jacques Gange
Sound: Joseph Champagne
Music: Maurice Blackburn, Angèle Arsenault
Cast: Paule Baillargeon, Luce Guilbeault, J.-Léo Gagnon, Pierre Gobeil, Jean Mathieu, Catherine Potvin, Angèle Arsenault
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

Forty-year-old HélPne (Luce Guilbault) is happily married to Gabriel (Pierre Gobeil) and already the mother of three children when she discovers she is pregnant. Gabriel welcomes the news, but HélPne has considerable doubts and considers an abortion. This precipitates the first serious conflict between a husband and wife who are deeply in love: HélPne argues it is her choice, while Gabriel, who has always wanted a large family, feels betrayed. HélPne discusses the situation with her younger sister Monique (Paule Baillargeon), a nurse who has already had an abortion. During one long night, the two women exchange their thoughts and experiences of contraception, abortion, motherhood, parental responsibility and the great loneliness women often feel. Le Temps de l’avant ends with HélPne and Gabriel walking, apart, down a long road – and HélPne determined to make her own decision.

Often considered part of her En tant que femmes series, but not released as such, this feature-length work of fiction is characteristic of Anne Claire Poirier’s approach to filmmaking. Fiction and introspective dialogues or monologues are interwoven with carefully researched social background material presented in a quasi-documentary style. Though criticized by some critics for its overly schematic scenario, this is a remarkably persuasive film. It includes some excellent performances and fine cinematography by Michel Brault.

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