The
 Vincent

PEREZ
Archives

 CANADA/US/UK
2004
143 Minutes

 

 

Synopsis: (aka "Battle of the Brave")  Set against a sweeping historical fresque, the epic tale of a great love story thwarted by fortune and men's will...  In 18th-century Quebec, one dark, misty night, France Carignan pays a visit to the dying Cure Blondeau. As the young woman and the old priest discuss their shared past, a story that marked both of them begins to unfold.

It's 1758, just before England's conquest of French Quebec. When she was young and defiant, Marie-Loup, France's mother, meets handsome Francois Le Gardeur in Quebec City's marketplace. Le Gardeur comes from a well-off family, but he would rather roam and hunt than bask in middle-class comforts. Marie-Loup, a carpenter's illiterate daughter, knows her way around a forest, practices herbal medicine and has Native friends. Many of the locals, particularly a trio of scornful hags, egged on by their ringleader Hortense, think the girl is a witch.

Francois and Marie-Loup fall in love instantly. Meanwhile, the dashing woodsman discovers that his recently deceased father engaged in sleazy dealings with the corrupt Intendant Le Bigot and left behind a financial mess. More than ever, Francois craves the simple honesty of nature, embodied for him by Marie-Loup. In contrast, Cure Blondeau admonishes Marie-Loup for her liberated behaviour, but it's obvious that he too loves the girl in his miserably repressed way.

*****

Production Notes:
Filmed in Canada, France and the UK, this film has the distinction of being Quebec’s costliest production ever with a $30 million budget.

*****

The Globe and Mail:
"Nouvelle France isn't so much a bad film as a costume drama for young girls. It's going to get some dreadful reviews -- this is the kind of movie critics like to make fun of -- but the fact is it's full of good actors and gorgeous scenery."

Toronto Star:
"Beaudin has assembled an interesting and camera-friendly cast from both sides of the Atlantic, and has gone to great pains to recreate the ambiance of New France circa 1760. But the lush cinematography and treacly-sweet soundtrack only serve to underline the emptiness of the story itself."

Take One Magazine:
"Determinedly ambitious, Nouvelle France only intermittently comes alive. As a Montreal journalist put it after its November release, the reviews of the film could be summed up by the expression, 'Qui trop embrace real etreint' or 'He who grasps at too much loses everything.' Not only are veteran director Jean Beaudin and mega-producer Richard Goudreau seeming to be biting off more than they can collectively chew, Quebec critics complained that Nouvelle France, which is billed as a 'fresco,' is far from a sweeping picture of Old Quebec during the time of the Conquest. While it offers some spectacular vistas conjured up by veteran cinematographer Louis de Ernsted, it rarely has the grandeur, or the poetic intensity, of an epic."

Eye Weekly:
Veteran Quebec director Jean Beaudin does a decent job of bringing the history books to life, and the look of 18th-century Canada and Europe - from natural vistas to lavish royal courts, open markets and prisons - is lushly rendered by cinematographer Louis de Ernsted. But the epic only sporadically achieves the lyrical depth and heft needed for such a big task. The thin love story groans with overblown melodrama while the most dramatic moments in Canada's early history - such as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham - are skipped altogether. The making of Canada as viewed through a Quebec nationalist lens should leave a deeper sense of tragedy and historic perspective.

Cast:

Noemie Godin-Vigneau....Marie-Loup
David LeHaye.....Francois le Gardeur
Juliette Gosselin.....Young France Carignan
Gerard Depardieu.....Thomas Blondeau
Irene Jacob.....Angelique de Roquebrun
Vincent Perez.....Intendant Le Bigot
Isabel Richer.....Older France Carignan
Tim Roth.....William Pitt
Jason Isaacs......General James Wolfe
Colm Meaney.....Benjamin Franklin

Credits: 

Directed by.....Jean Beaudin
Written by.....Pierre Billon
Cinematography by.....Louis de Ernsted
Music by......Patrick Doyle and Celine Dion
 

Canadian premiere: November 19, 2004

DVD release: November 7, 2006