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Montréal vu par ...

(Montreal Stories)

Year: 1991
Language: English and French
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 127 min
Director: Atom Egoyan, Michel Brault, Léa Pool, Patricia Rozema, Jacques Leduc, Denys Arcand
Producer: Denise Robert
Executive Producer: Peter Sussman, Michel Houle
Writer: Paule Baillargeon, Atom Egoyan, Michel Brault, Léa Pool, Patricia Rozema, Jacques Leduc, Marie-Carole de Beaumont, Hélène Le Beau
Cinematographer: Paul Sarossy, Pierre Mignot, Pierre Letarte, Guy Dufaux, Jean Pépine, Eric Cayla
Editor: Susan Shipton, Jacques Gagné, Pierre Vernier, Dominique Fortin, Alain Baril
Sound: Michel Arcand, Steve Munro, Louis Dupire, Marie-Claude Gagné
Music: Jean Corriveau, Mychael Danna, Michel Côté, Geneviève Letarte, Diane Labrosse, Osvaldo Montes, Yves Laferrière, Claude Léveillé
Cast: Maury Chaykin, Monique Mercure, Rémy Girard, Charlotte Laurier, Robert Lepage, Sheila McCarthy, Arsinée Khanjian
Production Company: Cinémaginaire Inc. (Montreal), Atlantis Films

Six of Canada’s most talented directors collaborated on this cinematic tribute to the city of Montreal. While this sextet of short films has no thematic link, Montréal vu par ... as a whole celebrates the cosmopolitan centre of la belle province on the occasion of its 350th birthday.

Patricia Rozema leads off with Desperanto, a delightful comedy in which Sheila McCarthy plays a vacationing Toronto housewife. She crashes a fancy party, speaks agonizing French and searches for a sophisticated Montreal romance – but she drinks too much and passes out in embarrassment, while subtitles of the party chatter float through her head. Jacques Leduc follows with La Toile du temps, a meditation on historical amnesia. Tracing the life of a painting of Jacques Viger, the first mayor of Montreal, he employs a Brechtian style to telescope 350 years of the portrait’s humiliation and recovery into a swirl of memories.

In La DerniPre Partie, Michel Brault offers a superbly choreographed and melancholic juxtaposition of two rituals, one public (a hockey game at the Montreal Forum), the other personal (the end of a middle-aged couple’s marriage). As the crowd roars, the woman walks away, down empty stadium halls, to start a new life. With En passant, Atom Egoyan conjures up a Montreal where language seems to have been abolished and communication now exists only as a series of ever more demented signs, signals and pictograms.

In Rispondetemi, the most emotionally resonant segment, Léa Pool rides through the deserted canyons of corporate Montreal in the back of an ambulance as she recounts the last moments in the life of a car-crash victim. Finally, in Vue d’ailleurs, Denys Arcand speaks to us of obsessive erotic memories from a tropical Canadian embassy party, where a middle-aged woman weaves a tall tale of her excessive amorous exploits in Montreal during the winter of 1967.