Gaz Bar Blues

Director: Louis Belanger

2003. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 115 minutes.

Gaz Bar Blues is an endearing and enlightening portrait of a small business struggling to stay afloat in 1980s Quebec. Monsieur Brochu (Serge Theriault), who’s popularly known as ‘Le Boss’, has run the traditional Champlain petrol station-cum-cafe (a ‘gaz bar’ in local slang) for the last fifteen years. He’s managed to survive the loss of his wife, repeated thefts and the onset of Parkinson’s disease. His sons detest the business: Rejean (Sebastien Delorme) assists his father but dreams of travelling the world as a photographer; Guy (Danny Gilmore) is always skipping work to play harmonica at jazz gigs; and 14-year-old Alain (Maxime Dumontier) is considered too young to help out. Brochu soldiers on, displaying infinite patience and forgiveness for his customers, some of whom use the station as a social centre where they spend their time gossiping and watching the world go by.
Director Louis Belanger is one of the bright lights of the new Quebec cinema and this second feature is a poignant, deeply personal film. Filled with subdued, revelatory performances and memorable characters, it is a lovingly photographed evocation of the strength of a family struggling to keep up with change.

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