×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Karlovy Vary Film Review: ‘The Sound of Trees’

Yet another coming-of-age summer story, but Francois Peloquin's touching, accomplished debut succeeds in the details.

With:
Antoine L'Ecuyer, Roy Dupuis, Willia Ferland-Tanguay, Remi Goulet, Charles-Emile Lafleur, Bobby Beshro, Joakim Robillard, Marylene Theriault, Marie-Chantal Therrien. (French dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4027334/

There may not be a genre with as limited a capacity to surprise a grown audience as the still-ubiquitous coming-of-age drama: While teenage kicks may switch from generation to generation, the process of self-realization they accompany remains universally constant. It’s the subtler textures of environment and character, then, that distinguish entries like Francois Peloquin’s debut feature, “The Sound of Trees,” from the dewy-eyed dross. Short and bittersweet, this portrait of a 17-year-old trainee lumberjack seeking a life larger than his rural corner of Quebec benefits from a close, compassionate view of its protagonist’s community — including several adults who haven’t yet found their own direction. Balmily shot and dynamically anchored by proven young talent Antoine L’Ecuyer, “Trees” will spread its branches amply on the festival circuit.

Boutique distributors interested in the pic — and there may be a few — might wish to tweak the title slightly: Quite aside from risking unwanted confusion with Gus Van Sant’s recent Cannes dud “The Sea of Trees,” the New Age-y implications of “The Sound of Trees” don’t quite square with its raw, sometimes rowdy portrayal of stir-crazy adolescent debauchery in the small village of Gaspesie — the flat, thirsty vistas of which are shot with appropriately desolate grandeur (going heavy on the late-afternoon lens flares) by Francois Messier-Rheault.

Then again, as a literal reference to the timberyard vocation seemingly prescribed for young Jeremie (L’Ecuyer), “the sound of trees” is perhaps an apt description of the quiet life he yearns to escape — even if the road only takes him as far as the relative metropolis of Quebec City. Dedicated in the closing credits to the helmer’s own son, Peloquin’s film is shot through with a warm understanding of how people shift and widen their personal goalposts as the decades pass, and the compensatory rewards we give ourselves when certain dreams go unfulfilled.

For his part, Jeremie appears to have devoted less thought to what he does want to do with his life than what he emphatically doesn’t. He’s keen on French hip-hop and fast engines, while his derivative dress sense (snapbacks and baggy jeans, with gleaming studs in his ears) acts as an urban-reaching retort to his country surroundings. (It’s also just a couple of years off-trend, as it probably would be so many miles out from the cities of his dreams; the film is strong on such tacitly observed details.) Jeremie lives on the family sawmill with his father, Regis (Roy Dupuis), and his older brother; when the latter leaves town with his new bride, the teenager’s wanderlust grows ever more impatient. The boys’ mother is not in evidence: Whether she passed away or succumbed to similarly restless urges is left for the audience to ponder.

When not helping out in the mill, Jeremie spends his free time burning rubber, getting high and goofing around with childhood friends Francis (Remi Goulet) and P.O. (Charles-Emile Lafleur). Though it’s increasingly evident — first to the viewer, though gradually to Jeremie himself — that he’s outgrowing their company, he’s not yet mature enough to sustain a serious relationship with sometime g.f. Maya (a winning Willia Ferland-Tanguay). Caught in limbo between putting away childish things and accepting the burden of adulthood, the lad whiles away a long, hot summer — as if any other kind exists in this genre — waiting for a sign as to his next move. When it comes, it’s arguably via the actions and crises of his elders: Regis views the future of the family business with a skepticism that matches his son’s, while a spirit of mobilized animosity toward the kids’ local drug dealer surges hotly across the village.

Peloquin’s lean but flavorful script, co-written with Sarah Levesque, resolves these collected tensions — or leaves them to fester — in much the manner you’d expect, but the characters’ modest triumphs and occasionally devastating setbacks are touching all the same. (It helps that a trio of editors have pruned proceedings to a running time of 76 minutes, ideal for the pic’s ambitions and outlook.) There’s a palpable sense here of the spirit of concern, edging into oppressive neighborly judgment, that binds tight populations like this one; it’s as easy to see how our bright but under-stimulated hero is a product of this community as it is to sympathize with his desire to flee.

L’Ecuyer, who first made a youthful impact in the 2008 festival charmer “It’s Not Me, I Swear!,” plays Jeremie beautifully, etching brief, involuntary flashes of boyish desperation amid the character’s swaggering pride and petulance. He’s perfectly matched by Canadian film veteran Dupuis, tender-tough but wry-humored as a father whose sturdy foundations might not bear his children’s closest scrutiny.

Popular on Variety

Karlovy Vary Film Review: 'The Sound of Trees'

Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), July 6, 2015. Running time: 76 MIN. (Original title: "Le Bruit des arbres")

Production: (Canada) An Alpha Violet, K-Films Amerique presentation of a Couzin Films production. (International sales: Alpha Violet, Paris.) Produced by Ziad Touma.

Crew: Directed by Francois Peloquin.  Screenplay, Peloquin, Sarah Levesque. Camera (color, widescreen), Francois Messier-Rheault; editors, Martin Bourgault, Aube Foglia, Simon Sauve; music, Mimi Allard; production designer, Simon Guilbault; costume designer, Julie Charland; sound, Francois Grenon, Sylvain Bellemare; supervising sound editors, Mathieu Beaudin, Francois Senneville; re-recording mixer, Luc Boudrias; visual effects supervisor, Alain Lachance; stunt coordinator, Thomas Liccioni; assistant director, Francis Langlois; casting, Nathalie Boutrie.

With: Antoine L'Ecuyer, Roy Dupuis, Willia Ferland-Tanguay, Remi Goulet, Charles-Emile Lafleur, Bobby Beshro, Joakim Robillard, Marylene Theriault, Marie-Chantal Therrien. (French dialogue)

More Film

  • Samara Weaving

    'G.I. Joe' Spinoff 'Snake Eyes' Adds 'Ready or Not's' Samara Weaving

    Samara Weaving will join Henry Golding in the “G.I. Joe” spinoff, “Snake Eyes.” Haruka Abe, Ursula Corbero, Iko Uwais and Andrew Koji have also boarded the Paramount, Skydance and AllSpark movie. “The Captain” director Robert Schwentke is helming and Brian Goldner is producing. Evan Spiliotopoulos, who wrote “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Huntsman: Winter’s [...]

  • The Irishman

    'The Irishman' to Screen at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre

    Netflix’s “The Irishman,” directed by Martin Scorsese, will screen at American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica for two weeks starting Nov. 1. The screenings, announced Monday, are part of the limited theatrical run for the 209-minute crime drama, which premiered at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27. [...]

  • Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Nominations 2019

    'Biggest Little Farm' Nabs Seven Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Nominations

    “The Biggest Little Farm” leads nominees for the fourth annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, with seven bids, followed by “Apollo 11” and “They Shall Not Grow Old.” “One Child Nation” received five nominations. The winners will be presented their awards at a gala, hosted by Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott, on Nov. 10 at BRIC in [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Abominable Animated Movie

    Vietnam Pulls DreamWorks' 'Abominable' Over Contested Territorial Claims

    Vietnam has banned DreamWorks Animation’s new co-produced feature “Abominable” from its cinemas due to a scene involving a map that depicts China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. The move comes as U.S. entertainment firms such as the NBA, Disney and gaming firm Activision Blizzard are under intense fire from U.S. fans, activists [...]

  • The Captain

    China Box Office: 'The Captain' Flies to $340 Million After Two Weeks of Release

    Patriotic thriller “The Captain” held on to the top spot at the Chinese box office for the second weekend, again leading from propaganda omnibus “My People, My Country.” “The Captain,” also known as “The Chinese Pilot” earned $34.9 million according to consultancy Artisan Gateway, for a two-week cumulative of $343 million. The cumulative for “People,” [...]

  • CGV movie theatre Seoul South KoreaCGV

    Korean Law to Limit Film Releasing Monopolies

    The Korean government is to make it illegal to show a single film on more than 50% of screens nationwide. The move is intended to prevent “screen monopolies by blockbuster films” and to “address unfair competition practices in the film industry.” The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday that it will revise the existing Promotion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content