Centering on four thirtysomethings who reunite 15 years after a Terrible Thing happened in the woods, Quebec helmer Ghyslaine Cote's sophomore outing plays like the last 20 pages of the script went missing en route. Weak opening film for this year's Montreal fest looks to scrape whatever it can from within francophone Canada.

Wannabe chick-flick and wannabe psychothriller, “The Five of Us” tries to have it both ways and ends up a very Canuck-flavored, dramatic zero. Centering on four thirtysomethings who reunite 15 years after a Terrible Thing happened in the woods, Quebec helmer Ghyslaine Cote’s sophomore outing plays like the last 20 pages of the script went missing en route. Weak opening film for this year’s Montreal fest looks to scrape whatever it can from within francophone Canada.

Teen pals Manon (Jacinthe Lague), Anne (Julie Deslauriers), Isa (Ingrid Falaise), Claudie (Brigitte Lafleur) and Sophie (Noemie Yelle) are having a girly get-together in the summer home of Sophie’s parents when tragedy strikes. Manon is raped and Sophie, her best friend, is raped and murdered.

Fifteen years later, the four survivors are getting on with their lives. Manon, a stock analyst in Montreal, is still looking for Mr. Right and finds herself courted by office hunk Stephane (Sylvain Carrier). Anne is now divorced, with a daughter; Isa is a successful but bored model in New York; and Sophie is a famous TV cook.

Manon’s buried trauma is revived when she spots the rapist-killer, Richard Thibodeau (Peter Miller), at a car wash, where he’s working on parole after a long spell in stir. She contacts her former buddies and they all congregate again at the idyllic lakeside spot where the original crime happened.

Though the film spends a couple of reels at the start showing the girls’ friendship prior to the outrage, there’s little individuality to the roles. When the survivors gather as adults, routine tensions occasionally break through but, again, none of the protags, aside from Manon, develops much depth.

Pic is peppered with flashbacks to the rape, leading the viewer to expect a much more thrillerish resolution than ever happens. Tensest section is the replay of the full event (in desaturated color) some 50 minutes in; thereafter, auds expecting a parallel climax may just as well head for home.

Director Cote has worked as an actress and acting coach, as well as helming kidpic “Pin-Pon — The Film” (1999), and perfs are OK across the board, with Lague and Deslauriers etching the most sizable roles. Technically, the whole shebang, which just crests 80 minutes (including credits), is professional.

The Five of Us

Canada

Production

An Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm release of a Remstar Prods., Forum Films production. (International sales: Remstar Distribution, Montreal.) Produced by Maxime Remillard, Richard Lalonde. Executive producer, Julien Remillaud. Directed by Ghyslaine Cote. Screenplay by Chantal Cadieux, Cote.

Crew

Camera (color), Alexis Durand-Brault; editor, Richard Comeau; music, Normand Corbeil; art director, Genevieve Burt; sound (Dolby Digital), Hans Peter Strobl; associate producer, Pierre Fyfe; assistant director, Jose Drolet; casting, Rachel Fontaine. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (opener, competing), Aug. 26, 2004. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Jacinthe Lague, Julie Deslauriers, Ingrid Falaise, Brigitte Lafleur, Noemie Yelle, Peter Miller, Sylvain Carrier, Robert Lalonde, Diane Lavallee, Louise Portal. (French dialogue)
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