Winter 2007 Edge series
Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 4:00pm
Directed by Patrice Sauvé
Based on the play by François Létourneau
Starring Patrice Robitaille, François Létourneau, Anick Lemay, Maxime Denommée, Fanny Mallette
Rated 14A ·
In his stylish feature debut, Montréal director Patrice Sauvé brings François Létourneau’s award-winning play Cheech to vivid life. Playing with genre conventions, Sauvé and Létourneau (who adapted his play for the screen) have crafted a Canadian noir replete with pimps, hookers, self-help tapes and, of course, a snow storm.
Ron (Patrice Robitaille, Délivrez-moi, Québec-Montréal), a small-time pimp searching for happiness and a shot at the big time, lies face down in the snow blowing in from his broken office window. He’s very much dead. Who put him there is the question the film seeks to answer. In classic noir style, Cheech flashes back in time to retrace the twelve hours leading up to Ron’s violent end. The suspects are numerous. There’s Maxime (Maxime Denommée, La Vie secrète des gens heureux), Ron’s oft confused and inexperienced assistant. There’s Olivier (Létourneau, Québec-Montréal), a client who is woefully behind in his payments, and Jenny (Anick Lemay, Le Dernier tunnel), Ron’s top girl, who may be looking to move up. Or what about Stéphanie (Fanny Mallette, Gaz Bar Blues), a depressed and suicidal escort whom Ron asks to do one last job? And then there’s Cheech. The head of a rival agency and the businessman Ron aspires to be, Cheech is upset when a convention rolls into town and Ron tries to invade his turf. The desperate characters are all looking for an escape from the seedy criminal underbelly of Montréal, but only some of them will make it.
Cheech matches its noir narrative with a modern look, utilizing dark hues, quick editing and unique camera angles to generate a tough and stylish edge. Its use of shadow and light for atmospheric effect recalls the apex of the genre, while its fallible protagonist and misfit cast of characters is reminiscent of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Occasionally grim but always funny, Cheech is noir for the postmodern world. From its leather coats and large cars to the hip soundtrack and slacker mogul lead, Cheech is a celebration of cinematic style.