Overall, Les nôtres fails to dive into the depths of its subject matter, hinting at a dark underbelly that it never full explores.
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Director Jeanne Leblanc and co-writer Judith Baribeau pull no punches in portraying the malicious underbelly of the town at the center of Les nôtres.
Les Nôtres” remains — right up to its tight, repressed ending — a deeply disquieting, superbly performed evocation of a very banal sort of evil.
For better and worse, the script has a clear depiction of contemporary good and evil and an efficient movie-of-the-week purposefulness, to the point where you half expect to see a helpline number before the closing credits.
The film’s drama wrestles itself to a standstill (along with leaving some characterization sketchy, like that of a concerned social worker). Yet Leblanc might come closer to the sensation of concealed trauma than movies with more familiar storytelling beats.
The film is a j’accuse aimed at those complicit in oppressing the most vulnerable in order to protect the powerful.
What keeps Les Nôtres from being effective, however, is that it rarely makes the transition from coolly observed case study to compellingly messy, resonant human drama.
Give Leblanc credit, though. Any time you make a movie with well-played characters who compel the audience to want to shout at the screen, you’ve accomplished something.
While the raw material for something twisted and operatic exists here, Leblanc is too committed to putting meters of space between herself and the material to fully absorb the viewer. The motivations for that choice, however arty, are uncertain.