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Deux Actrices

Though her film ambles into its story, actress-turned-filmmaker Micheline Lanctot ultimately delivers a hard-hitting drama of sibling bonding in "Deux Actrices."

Though her film ambles into its story, actress-turned-filmmaker Micheline Lanctot ultimately delivers a hard-hitting drama of sibling bonding in “Deux Actrices.”

The raw, unconventionally told tale is unquestionably for a highbrow crowd and therefore can only benefit from festival exposure.

That, coupled with the absence of a name cast, will necessitate a review-driven campaign, and sadly suggests very limited theatrical exposure.

Story begins when Fabienne (Pascale Paroissien) arrives at Solange’s (Pascale Bussieres) door and announces they are sisters.

Solange, the younger of the two, feels there must have been some mistake — and turns the woman away.

It is a rather perfect beginning for what is to follow. Movie logic demands that the surprising news is either true or the start of some horrible, twisted plot. Thankfully, this is not a thriller, so the latter option is eliminated.

Bussieres and Paroissien are acutely attuned to the emotional investment their roles require. Solange allows Fabienne to move into the apartment she shares with Charles (Francois Delisle). But while she becomes increasingly accepting of her newfound sister, there’s always a subtle underlying note of skepticism.

Fabienne, conversely, is a woman who masks a repressed, hidden nature with fervent outbursts of emotion. The explosions are invariably fixed to some sudden revelation, such as the existence of a 7-year-old daughter who’s been taken from her by the child welfare department, or the lesbian love affairs in her past.

Lanctot, who handles four key positions on the film — producer, director, writer and editor — effortlessly conveys her commitment to the subject matter.

What is more complicated to fathom is the structure she chose to adopt. Sandwiched between the fictional scenes are sequences with the performers discussing their lives and the roles they play in the film.

While the videotaped behind-the-scenes footage doesn’t directly elucidate the narrative, it does provide an effective emotional counterbalance.

“Deux Actrices” is an assured, clever, potent outing. Adroitly crafted and performed, the film derives its power honestly — from integrity and passion.

Deux Actrices

(CANADIAN)

  • Production: A Max Films Communications presentation of a Stopfilm production in association with Arts Council of Canada and the National Film Board. Produced, directed, written, edited by Micheline Lanctot.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Andre Gagnon; music, Kate and Anne McGarrigle; sound, Hans Peter Strobl. Reviewed at Festival of Festivals, Toronto, Sept. 15, 1993. Running time: 94 MIN.
  • With: Solange ... Pascale Bussieres Fabienne ... Pascale Paroissien Charles ... Francois Delisle Mother ... Louise Latraverse Florist ... Suzanne Garceau
  • Music By: