Autumn 2012 Features series
Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 7:00pm
Monday, October 8, 2012 at 7:00pm
Directed by Guy Édoin
Screenplay by Guy Édoin
Starring Luc Picard, Gabriel Maillé, and Pascale Bussières
Rated G ·
This debut feature film from Québec writer/director Guy Édoin premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is set in the Eastern Townships and tells the story of a family of struggling dairy farmers over the course of one long dry summer.
The Santerre family has an intimate and turbulent relationship with their land. As they struggle to keep their dairy farm afloat, they find themselves land rich and cash poor. Husband Jean (Luc Picard, A Sunday in Kigali) and wife Marie (Pascale Bussières) work all hours to turn a profit. Their efforts are futile, though, for nature seems to work against them: a baby calf is stillborn, the summer forecast predicts poor farming conditions and most symbolically, the well runs dry. Despite his obvious strength, their son, Simon (Gabriel Maillé) does not seem fit for the job. His heart is not in it and his lack of effort adds an extra grievance to Jean and Marie’s troubles.
Tragedy strikes and the film goes on to chart the difficult family relationships with emphasis on Marie and son Simon, who is dealing with the usual adolescent growing pains, sexual identity as well as grief and guilt. The Santerres – especially Marie – force themselves to do all that is necessary to survive.
Through the arduous efforts of the Santerre family, Wetlands offers a provocative and observant portrait of rural life in an age faced by technological change and considerable economic downturns. Told in a fleeting, observational style, Wetlands feels both timely and timeless.
“Édoin makes a thoroughly impressive feature debut as writer/director with Wetlands. Most remarkable is the rich synthesis and interconnectedness between the Santerres and the land they live off. Offering some beautifully composed scenes with the help of DP Serge Desrosiers, Wetlands uses some stunning tracking shots and compositions that foreground the landscape of Québec’s Eastern Townships. In some scenes, the soft natural light soothes Marie as she walks through the field while caressing the plants.Wetlands has a nostalgic feel, if not a palpable sense of loss. At the same time, the framing of the land engulfs the Santerres to evoke the familiar and resonant theme of a small community living within a hostile environment. Enhanced by a phenomenal sound design that accentuates crickets, cicadas, the wind and the water, Wetlands underscores both the freeing tranquility of the country, as well as the brutal heat and the slow passage of time. A powerful tale of survival – if not la survivance, depending on how one chooses to read this open and malleable film – Wetlands is a notable debut by a new Canadian talent.” (Patrick Mullen, Cinemablographer)