Zesty appetites — for food, sex, fun and life itself — fill the screen in “It’s Your Turn, Laura Cadieux,” a jet-propelled vehicle for some of French Canada’s top talents. The hinted-at dreams and disappointments of a bunch of size-large women, most over 50, give heart to this otherwise hilarious farce, tangily adapted from a novel by stage great Michel Tremblay. The ample star power of Ginette Reno, as the soulful, bellicose and deeply prejudiced title character, travels easily beyond the Quebec singer-thesp’s home base. With careful handling, pic could score even with auds who don’t normally venture out for foreign fare — especially with women of a certain age.
Reno, who was La Belle Provence’s top chanteuse until skinny Celine Dion slithered onto the scene, is a veritable force of nature as Laura Cadieux, who is first seen on her way to a weekly gaggle of similarly well-stuffed Montreal matrons at a doctor’s office, where her working-class friends gather for diet injections that do no good whatsoever. Their real purpose is to while away their time telling jokes, hashing over old problems and dancing to tunes on the radio.
On this particular visit, the presence of an uninhibited nun and a couple of veiled Arab women only eggs them on to greater heights of profane irreverence, and more than a few spats break out among the women themselves. They especially pick on the only non-fat member of the group (Adele Reinhardt), who has a skin condition instead; she also has a transparent crush on the too-dapper Oscar Blanchette (Donald Pilon), likewise a regular presence on Wednesdays.
Helmer Denise Filatrault, a longtime legit veteran who also did the adaptation, doesn’t hem in her vibrant thesps at any point, but she doesn’t let them turn into cartoons, either. Some light grace notes and over-the-top episodes are balanced by brief sketches — involving fantasies and flashbacks — that show the women at much darker moments, usually engaged in some quiet struggle with the useless men they ended up with.
Episodic tale’s different threads are held together by Daniel Jobin’s color-rich lensing and a percolating music score that sounds like Acadian disco with didgeridoo undertones. Reno also sings the end-credit tune.
CORRECTION-DATE: November 9, 1998 – November 15, 1998
The original-language title of the film “It’s Your Turn, Laura” is “C’t’a ton tour, Laura Cadieux.” Pic was reviewed in the Oct. 26 – Nov. 1 issue under a slightly different English title and with an incorrect French one.