I am a fan of Denys Arcand’ hilarious parodies of contemporary life and this time, “Testament” is devoted to destroying wokism which of course is a battle I love. It might be his last film, he says, and so it is another reason to rush and see it. The main character, a 70 year old retired archivist, dressed in a chic tweed three piece suit, lives in a retirement home in Montreal. The lady director is attacked by demonstrators who want to destroy a fresco describing Jacques Cartier, the explorer, meeting native people who are naked. This idea for the script came from a scene Denys Arcand had witnessed at the Metropolitan museum in New York some years ago.
All the clichés of wokism are present in the film with a great sense of humor and Rémy Girard, who is acting for the seventh time in a Denys Arcand movie (The Decline of the American Empire, The Barbarian Invasion which won an Oscar…) is amazing at every minute of it especially when, after the hilarious lesbians and minority women, he receives the prize for another writer whose name is a homonym. There are a lot of allusions about old age and old men’s wisdom in the film, but it is never sad. The main character who never married, knows how to have a good time and develops an interesting relationship with the younger woman director played by Sophie Lorain.
All the characters are interesting including Marie Mai Bouchard who plays the sexy weekly visitor in the retirement home and the director Sophie Lorain who does not know how to react to the Minister of health’s stupid orders. All politicians are described here as technicians who use too many acronyms in their tedious speeches. The famous director Robert Lepage makes a short appearance as the deputy minister of culture and knowing that his play “Kanata” about the First Nations, was banned in Canada, it makes the film even more credible. We were lucky to see it briefly in Paris at Théâtre du Soleil and it was fascinating. It is interesting to witness how Québec is torn between North American and French culture. It will be the guest of honor of the next Book fair in Paris in the Spring. Geneviève Pigeon who represents the 110 Quebec publishers announced the event this week. At the same time, the new Cité de la langue franchise in Villers-Cotterêts is very involved with Québec who sends young artists in residence.
I was lucky to meet the main actor Rémy Girard at a presentation of the film in the Cinq Caumartin cinemas, and his self effacement and sense of humor were remarkable. He was standing in for Denys Marcand, the film director, who had been food poisoned by a steak tartare! and talked about the pleasure it had been to act so many times in his films… “At 73 I feel very lucky”, he ended up saying. So do not miss this wonderful film which will make you feel good for a long time… Testament plays everywhere in France.
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