The local launch of Denys Arcand’s “Days of Darkness” should have been the film event of the year for French-Canadian cinema, given that he is Quebec’s most famous filmmaker. So why has the Quebec press been giving the 66-year-old Montreal auteur such a rough ride?
There has been an endless stream of relentlessly negative articles in the French media in Montreal for the past few months as local journos gleefully report every bad review from France, where the film opened in September. There’s also no shortage of talk about how “Darkness” tanked at the box office in Gaul, in sharp contrast to Arcand’s previous “The Barbarian Invasions,” which was a big hit.
And when distrib Alliance opened “Days of Darkness” for one week in the tiny burg of Grande Prairie in northern Alberta in September to qualify for this year’s Oscars one Montreal newspaper even sent a correspondent up to the little town to happily report back that the film was playing to a near-empty cinema.
The pic finally opens Dec. 7 across Quebec, six months after its world preem as the closing selection at Cannes, and the million-dollar question is whether, after all the bad press, local auds will still trek see the biting satire about a frustrated Quebec government functionary. Why are the Quebec journalists mad at Arcand? One theory is that this is just Canadian sour grapes — the country has an unfortunate tendency to take potshots at its most famous citizens, especially the ones who make it big beyond its borders.