Thursday, March 4, 2010

Movie Review: 1981

1981 ***
Directed By:
Ricardo Trogi.
Written By: Ricardo Trogi.
Starring: Jean-Carl Boucher (Ricardo), Claudio Colangelo (Benito), Sandrine Bisson (Claudette), Gabriel Maillé (Jérôme), Dany Bouchard (Marchand), Léo Caron (Plante), Marjolaine Lemieux (Aline), Élizabeth Adam (Anne Tremblay).

Ricardo Trogi’s 1981 is a nostalgic look back at his own childhood. It’s kind of like a Quebecois version of the Wonder Years, that great show of the late 1980s when Fred Savage told us all about his formative years in the 1960s.

The movie stars young Jean-Carl Boucher in a marvelous comic, yet natural performance, as the young Ricardo. He is 11 years old, and his working class parents – Benito (Claudio Colangelo) and Claudette (Sandrine Bisson) have just packed up Ricardo and his younger sister and moved them to a new, more expensive house. With that means, of course, a new school and Ricardo enters a world where cliques have already formed, and he is on the outside looking in. Not only that, but while at his old school, he was just about to start learning handwriting instead of printing, here he is already expected to know it by heart. This isn’t all bad news though, as one day the teacher asks her star pupil Anne Tremblay (Elizabeth Adam) to help Ricardo with his cursive. She brushes elbows with him, which he takes as a sign that she loves him as much as he loves her. The fact that she virtually ignores him for the rest of the school year doesn’t diminish this belief.

Trogi gets the details right as to what it is like to be 11 years old. The way the teacher towers over you, and makes you feel small by comparison. How you do and say things you normally wouldn’t just to make friends. How you obsess over the smallest of details over the girl you are “in love” with. How it seems that everything your parents do is designed to specifically ruin your life. The most brilliant, unforgettable scene in the film involves Ricardo once again complaining that his parents never buy him anything and accusing his mother of “living beyond their means”, and she just goes off on him. Who hasn’t had a moment like this with their parents, where they just push things a little too far, and end up touching a nerve that sets off their parents? Like the scene I remember from my childhood, the incident is never brought up again – by either the parent or the child.

1981 doesn’t really break any new ground. There really is nothing here that you haven’t seen in other movies – or the Wonder Years for that matter. But what it does, it does with skill, style and wit. It is a highly enjoyable little film.

No comments:

Post a Comment