Films: Familiar Grounds

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Familiar Grounds  {En terrains connus}

Familiar Grounds
En terrains connus

Canada, 2011, 98 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Family Issues, French/French Canadian
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: French English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Stéphane Lafleur
Producer: Luc Déry, Kim McCraw
Editor: Sophie Leblond
Screenwriter: Stéphane Lafleur
Cinematographer: Sara Mishara
Principal Cast: Francis La Haye, Fanny Mallette, Sylvain Marcel, Michel Daigle, Suzanne Lemoine

The touchingly dysfunctional family on display in the second feature by Québécois writer-director Stéphane Lafleur would look just right in a carnival funhouse mirror. Its patriarch (Michel Daigle) is a grumpy old bicycle mechanic who spends most of his time in a beige lounge chair, talking back to the TV set. His bumbling son, Benoit (Francis LaHaye), imagines himself a glamorous rock star—but he can't even succeed at unscrewing the lid from a jar of spaghetti sauce, and his crazy hookup with a bitter divorcée (Suzanne Lemoine) is marred by her bratty little son, who barks at him like a dog.

Across town, Benoit's gloomy sister, Maryse (Fanny Mallette), endures her marriage to sweet but dull-witted Alain (Sylvain Mercel), who spends his nights pedaling a stationary bike through the endless stages of an imaginary Tour de France. In front of the house there squats a useless little backhoe no one wants to buy.

Beyond small talk and a hilarious family dinner at which Benoit cooks the unfortunate bird that's flown into his bedroom window, nothing much happens here. But Lafleur and cowriter Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne bring bone-dry wit to bear on the trials of their untidy film family—as well as a touch of the miraculous. When a strange figure who calls himself the Man From the Future (Denis Houle) suddenly materializes, he seems to give Benoit and his sister Maryse a choice between the glories of free will and the trapdoor of fate—right there in the snowy wastes of eastern Canada.

No less than Lafleur’s acclaimed debut Continental, A Film Without Guns (SDFF30), this offbeat domestic comedy digs up plenty of dynamics in an ostensibly inert tableau.
—Bill Gallo


Sponsored by Consulate General of Canada in Denver, Quèbec Government Office in Los Angeles

Post-film reception with director follows


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