Gaby is an aging farmer. He has worked the family farm alone for over forty year as his brothers wanted no part of it. He and his wife had two daughters. But the girls have left, as has his wife. The constants in his life are his dog, his one friend, the hired boy, the sheep - and the land. He lives a solitary life, but seems content.
Pilote's cinematography is absolutely beautiful. Rural Quebec was used for the setting. The farm is authentic, the house comfortable and lived in. Pastoral. Pilote's camera often pauses that extra moment and the viewer can't help but see what Gaby sees.
Gabriel Arcand plays Gaby and I thought he was superb. If I didn't know he was an actor, I would absolutely believe he was a farmer. This character is a man of few words. Arcand's facial expressions, body language and simple actions convey much with few words. His eyes are particularly expressive.
His oldest daughter Marie arrives for a visit - the joy Gaby experiences at seeing his child and grandchildren is extremely touching. However, Marie has her own reason for visiting - she needs money - $200,000 to be exact. She and her husband are divorcing and she wants to stay in the house. Here, I got angry. Gaby's offer to come and live with him are rebuffed, his inquires into her savings, her husband helping her out are all met with no. I really didn't like Marie - I thought her extremely selfish. Gaby however wants to help her - he loves his children dearly. So....he decides to sell his farm.
Heartbreaking. In reading the director's notes, Pilote has described his film as a tribute to fatherhood. In that respect he has succeeded. The sacrifices Gaby is willing to make, the losses he is willing to suffer for his children speaks volumes. (But I still couldn't get past not liking Marie)
The soundtrack is particularly effective, complementing the setting. The ending left me wanting more. And that's a good thing. I would have like to know what happened to Gaby 'after'. The last screen shot of him left me feeling quite sad...while the last shots of his daughters show them enjoying their own pursuits.
All in all, this is one of the best films I've watched from Film Movement. Absolutely recommended.
As always, there is a short film included. The Giant - a non verbal animated - was the addition to this feature film. Although I could see the tie in - nature and land - it didn't do much for me.
Canada / 2013 / French with English subtitles / 111 min