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Tendresse ordinaire

(Ordinary Tenderness)

Year: 1973
Language: French
Format: 35mm Colour
Director: Jacques Leduc
Producer: Paul Larose
Writer: Robert Tremblay
Cinematographer: Alain Dostie
Editor: Pierre Bernier
Sound: Jacques Drouin
Music: Jocelyn Bérubé, Don Douglas, Michel Latraverse
Cast: Luce Guilbeault, Claudette Delorimier, J.-Léo Gagnon, Jocelyn Bérubé, Esther Auger, Jean-René Ouellet, Jean-Pierre Bourque
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

It is winter on Quebec’s North Shore. Esther’s (Esther Auger) husband Jocelyn (Jocelyn Bérubé) is a lumberjack away on a job in the far north. As she awaits his return, she talks with her friend Bernadette (Luce Guilbault) – whose presence makes the long winter bearable – and reminisces about other days with her husband.

The great Italian neo-realist screenwriter Cesare Zavattini once said that he "would love to film twenty-fours in the life of a man to whom nothing happens." Tendresse ordinaire is perhaps as close as one can get to the realization of that desire. A hypnotic study of human behaviour told through stark realism, Jacques Leduc’s extraordinary portrait of the minutiae of everyday life applies to fiction the style that he would later bring to documentary in Chronique de la vie quotidienne (1977-78). Leduc’s use of colour, composition and editing for comparison and contrast, together with three brilliantly evocative lead performances, unite to make the mundane seem metaphysical.

Though many critics disdained its slow pace and lack of plot and action, Tendresse ordinaire was hailed by others as a major new development of the feature film.

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