Anne Émond’s Cinema

Mathieu Li-Goyette

For just a few years now Anne Émond has been creating a cinema of life and death, a cinema that begins in hospital rooms in order to better distance itself from them, to express a shared fear that she drags about with her like a terrifying obsession: danger surrounds us. It surrounds us to such an extent that life, in Anne Émond’s cinema, is more bewilderment than consolation, an opportunity to face situations in which the characters can only begin, as if the entire universe could be capsized by a little kick, to question the reasons for their fate. A man sees his young companion in an interminable coma, a young woman requests an abortion, and another, while asking herself quite private questions about her sexuality, waits for the results of an HIV test. These characters to whom everything happens are young women, caught off guard without arms or resources in the face of an inescapable future – in this sense, the last shot of Naissances perhaps best sums up this fine idea.

From the eye patch in L’ordre des choses to the old-fashioned cradle in Naissances to the forced mise en scène of Sophie Lavoie (the film is made up of a single long take, and because its format is that of an interview, the title character’s reverse shot is always off screen), Émond cries out her originality, one way or another, at times by masterly poetic touches and lately with a mise en scène that makes burst with meaning something that otherwise would have none. Because of the immobile camera, the doctor’s two-minute absence to see another patient leaves Sophie in the shot, still alone in the frame but now without an off-screen space: left completely alone in a space no longer defined by the presence of the doctor but rather by the presence of absence, an absence that gulps and devours. On the basis of this shot, and thus of this film, we can confirm that Anne Émond is in the process of becoming one of the best filmmakers of the next generation.

For while she is still young and her previous films could sometimes give this fact away a little, a true maturity can be found in her subjects and mise en scène. While we wait for her first feature film, it is already possible to say that she rejects the facility of contemporary mannerism (that of Xavier Dolan) and prefers instead the efficiency and modulation of the frame to a longing for poetry: the frame within a frame of L’ordre des choses, cut by the bodies of the two lovers, tells us much about this cinema, a cinema whose frame is the body, because it carries with it the unease of the characters. Meaning that she prefers a running camera to jogging and a seated camera to a seated interview, and at no time do we see the slightest desire to distance herself from her characters, to look down on or up at them. For their height is that of our own, because Émond’s cinema is one of solitary characters (in a sense, because the others serve only as a comparison), but also one that writes a destiny that must be followed step by step. Thus L’ordre des choses ends with a man following his path in the midst of a crowd, and the sound of their voices ends up engulfing him, like the end of Naissances, which shows the young woman advancing in the darkness, cradle in hand. They advance towards the unknown, towards a next stage where once again they won’t have anything to hold onto, ready to capsize in one direction or the other. In light of the first images of Nuit #1, this is pretty much the stage where Émond is at. Looking towards the future, she carries the weight of making Quebec cinema, today undergoing a complete renaissance, speak: as a woman (there can never be enough women filmmakers) and an artist (because she is undeniably talented), she is doubly interesting or, at the very least, someone to keep your eye on, because it is certain that in a few years’ time there may be a great film signed “Anne Émond”.

Facebook Twitter