Also with: Joelle Morin, Julie Deslauriers, Fanny Lauzier, Marie-Josee Bergeron.
Low-key treatment of an intriguing premise takes much of the spice out of “Chili’s Blues,” a charming but over-metaphysical love story set in a Quebecois railroad station just after JFK’s assassination. Though festivals could bite, the small screen looks to be the more likely destination for this quietly offbeat movie.
Picture takes the theme of North American loss of innocence after the Dallas shooting and shows both sides of the psychological coin through two characters who meet at a snowbound station on Dec. 12, 1963. One is a teenager (Lucie Laurier) who’s screwed up and despondent about life; the other is a door-to-door salesman, Pierre-Paul (Roy Dupuis), whose positive attitude may or may not succeed in winning her over.
Catalyst for the meeting is Pierre-Paul’s discovery of a girl with a gun in her mouth slumped in a washroom stall. By the time he’s alerted the stationmaster, she’s disappeared, and all he can remember is that she was wearing a plaid kilt. That day, the station happens to be full of a group of schoolgirls, all with the same plaid kilts.
Chili (Laurier) finally comes forward, and a slow, cautious romance develops in the nooks and crannies of the station. Flashbacks limn the girl’s troubled youth, but after the pair make love, she says she isn’t the girl he was seeking. The truth is revealed only at the very end.
Main star of the picture is the fine set of the station concourse, bustling with stranded passengers. Apart from the brightly lit flashbacks to Chili’s youth, photography is mostly shadowy and downbeat, in tune with the central romance.
Dialogue is thick with Gallic metaphysics, but central perfs by Laurier (splendid) and Dupuis (more of a blank page) just about sustain interest. Smaller roles, including other schoolgirls and elders, are much livelier. Period detail shows some care.