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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.05.11] Canada review drama

Year: 2011
Director: Marc Bisaillon
Writer: Marc Bisaillon
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

For his sophomore effort, French Canadian director Marc Bisaillon decided to take on a story he'd heard in passing from a friend. It involved a couple of kids who committed a crime and kept it a secret before one of them turned himself in. With Guilt (La verité), Bisaillon explores how a stressful situation takes a moral and emotional toll on two teens.

Gabriel and Yves are good friends and generally stay out of trouble though they're not completely immune from occasionally rocking the boat. Yves is a football star set on entering the firefighting academy while Gabriel is an excellent student with a bright future ahead of him. The pair live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else and though both come from single parent families, they're well adjusted, happy teens.

The day Yves gets his new car, a car he got thanks to a little scheme Gabriel cooked up, the duo take some shrooms and head out to the local bar where they drink too much before eventually being thrown out. On the walk home Gabriel passes out and in a moment of panic, Yves picks him up, goes to the nearest house which happens to be empty and breaks in. When Gabriel comes to, the duo start scoping the place out and when they put on some music, the combination of adrenaline, alcohol and drugs leads to a total destruction of the living room. A voice outside snaps them out of their revelry and Yves steps out to take charge of the situation but when the stranger seems suspicious and threatens to call the police Yves reacts and takes the man down with an audible thud. The pair of friends later agrees not to mention the event to anyone and while Gabriel is freaked that he recognized the man as his old scout leader, Yves seems fairly certain that they've escaped detection.

And then the man is discovered dead.

The pair are determined to avoid getting caught. Yves quickly makes his escape from town choosing to live with his mother, while Gabriel is left behind to deal with the constant stress of the situation and for the remainder of the film we follow Gabriel as he deals with the pressure of the situation. He's paranoid someone will discover his connection to the death and at every turn, Bissaillon incorporates red herrings that the pair will be discovered but in the end, it's Gabriel's own guilt that makes him crack.

The theme behind Bissaillon's film isn't new and Guilt plays within the confines of predictability. Not only is it clear from the onset that one of the boys is the weak link, it's even clear which one is going to break yet the film features some excellent performances, particularly from Pierre-Luc Lafontaine as Gabriel, that keep it afloat despite the dwindling tension.

Though I appreciate what Bissaillon is trying to achieve with Guilt I had hoped the film would take us further into Gabriel's inner struggle. Though Lafontaine beautifully embodies the character, Bissaillon steers clear of anything too menacing choosing instead to show Gabriel's depression in the form of him sleeping too much and always being tired and physically worn. If he had taken a few more chances, this would be a gem but as it stands it's a well made but largely forgettable picture.

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