At the heart of this mesmerising debut feature by Catherine Martin, set in late 19th century Quebec, lies a Victorian torment about passionate romantic love. The anguished central character, Yvonne (an assured performance by Marie-eve Bertrand), is trapped in a stifling family environment by her elder sister, who wants her to become a nun. The unsettling exhumation of their mother’s perfectly preserved body twenty years after her death then adds to their conflict. But Yvonne is too enamoured with the pleasures of both the beautiful physical environment around her and the handsome son of a wealthy neighbour to simply capitulate. The central character’s love of nature and the surrounding woods plays a large role in a film, which has the structure of a fable or fairy tale. Dreams and visions wind their way through the narrative. ‘I was interested in showing the power of nature over us,’ says Martin, ‘how, when you believe that our soul and nature are connected, mysterious things can happen.’ What is eventually revealed to Yvonne is her own power the power of desire, the power of physical and emotional freedom. The film is exceptionally engaging on a visual level, with veteran cinematographer Jean-Claude Labrecque’s dusky images capturing the look of a Rembrandt painting.
2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo. 95 mins.
Plus Remembrance by Stephanie Morgenstem.
2001. Colour. 18 mins.

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