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La Maudite Galette

Year: 1972
Language: French
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 105 min
Director: Denys Arcand
Producer: Marguerite Duparc, Jean Lefebvre
Executive Producer: Pierre Lamy
Writer: Jacques Benoît
Cinematographer: Alain Dostie
Editor: Marguerite Duparc
Sound: Serge Beauchemin
Music: Gabriel Arcand, Michel Hinton, Lionel Thériault
Cast: Luce Guilbeault, René Caron, J.-Léo Gagnon, Gabriel Arcand, Marcel Sabourin, Jean-Pierre Saulnier, Maurice Gauvin
Production Company: Les Productions Carle-Lamy Ltée, Cinak Ltd.

Rolland (René Caron), a working-class plumber, lives in Montreal with his wife, Berthe (Luce Guilbeault), their two children and their reclusive tenant, Ernest (Marcel Sabourin). One evening, his wealthy uncle Arthur (J.-Léo Gagnon) pays them a surprise visit from the country. Arthur gives Rolland and Berthe a cash gift, but they complain it is not enough, so he takes it back and leaves. Later that night, Rolland, Berthe and two friends go to Arthur’s house to rob him. But, unknown to them, Ernest follows the group and violence erupts: Ernest kills Rolland, Arthur and one accomplice, the other friend is accidentally killed by Berthe, Ernest burns down the house, then he and Berthe flee with the stolen money. The fugitive couple is separated after a fight, leading Ernest through a series of misadventures as he tries to get to his parents’ house. When he finally arrives, Berthe is waiting for him and they kill each other in a hail of bullets. Ernest’s parents then take the stolen money and leave for Florida.

A scathing indictment of greed that subversively dramatizes the unrest of the lower class, Denys Arcand’s first fiction feature is not a thriller despite its plot. In fact, La Maudite Galette (the title means, loosely, "the damned loot"), might better be considered an upside-down thriller, as Arcand uses thriller conventions only in the interest of unmasking them. He is less interested in plot and more concerned with presenting, analytically, the life and conditions of the Québécois and the tragic impact of North American values. The film is shot entirely in long takes, with a fixed camera and frame and harsh lighting and colour – a style that assists in the distanciation Arcand is trying to achieve. The film was, regrettably, never released in an English version.