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Entre la mer et l'eau douce

Entre la mer et l'eau douce

(Drifting Upstream)

Year: 1967
Language: French
Format: 35mm Black & White
Runtime: 85 min
Director: Michel Brault
Producer: Pierre Patry
Writer: Gérald Godin, Marcel Dubé, Claude Jutra, Michel Brault, Denys Arcand
Cinematographer: Jean-Claude Labrecque, Michel Brault, Bernard Gosselin
Editor: Werner Nold
Sound: Michel Brault
Music: Claude Gauthier
Cast: Paul Gauthier, Denise Bombardier, Claude Gauthier, Geneviève Bujold
Production Company: Coopératio Inc.

Widely regarded as Michel Brault’s most poetic and richly complex feature, Entre la mer et l’eau douce (which is translated as Drifting Upstream) is a daring marriage of direct cinema and fiction filmmaking. Brault strikes a perfect balance between scripted and improvised situations, professional and amateur performances, reality and myth.

Claude Tremblay (Paul Gauthier) leaves his small town on the North Shore to go to Montreal, where he works several odd jobs and eventually falls in love with Geneviève (Geneviève Bujold), a pretty waitress who works in a local diner. Tremblay enters a singing contest that launches his career. As he gradually becomes more well known, he has a brief affair with a married woman and breaks up with Geneviève. He returns to his hometown but nothing seems the same. Back in Montreal, he becomes increasingly successful as a singer. One night he meets Geneviève backstage, only to learn she is now married.

Evocative and engaging, Entre la mer et l’eau douce is as seminal a work in Quebec as Don Shebib’s Goin' Down the Road is in English Canada. The film’s themes — the city as a place of material success but emotional loss, nostalgia for a forfeited harmony with nature and the impossibility of regaining lost in­nocence — are more forcefully articu­lated here than in Shebib’s movie. Brault’s deft observational style, his warm, evocative cinematography and his direction of the actors make this one of the major films of the sixties.

Entre la mer et l’eau douce was presented at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival as the Festival's Canadian Open Vault selection.