Director: Jean-Claude Lauzon

One of the most promising French-Canadian directors to emerge in the 1980s, Jean-Claude Lauzon was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1997. His first feature, Night Zoo (1987), was well received at home but made little impact abroad. All that changed with the appearance of the brilliant Leolo, which was the great discovery of 1992 Cannes Film Festival. A work of dazzling virtuosity and imagination, Lauzon’s film tells of a boy on the threshold of manhood who lives with an insanely dysfunctional family in Montreal. As a means of coping with his squalid surroundings, Leolo invents an elaborate fantasy world that he records in a journal. Lauzon both contrasts and interweaves scenes of Leolo’s grim reality and the dream-like alternative existence the boy conjures up from that reality. Thus the film’s unique blend of the squalid and the romantic, the comic and the tragic. Lauzon doesn’t cue the audience when he moves back and forth between fact and fiction; his childhood portrait is wild and expressionistic and strewn with motifs and hidden meaning. It’s precisely that ability to interweave fact and fancy that makes Leolo so personal and expressive. Full of striking images and set-pieces, the film’s structure is itself an amazement, revealing itself only gradually, so that the more we know about how and why the story is being told, the more poignant it becomes.
Canada, 1992. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo. 109 mins

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