Le Grande Noirceur

Character: Travelling Salesman
Directed by: Maxime Giroux
Written by: Simon Beaulieu, Maxime Giroux, Alexandre Laferrière
Produced by: Sylvain Corbeil, Nancy Grant, Eric Connelly, Danelle Eliav, Maxime Giroux, Neva McIntosh
Other cast: Martin Dubreuil, Sarah Gadon, Romain Duris
Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes

Le grande noirceur, a sinister, absurdist allegory about our turbulent times, is a radical departure from Giroux’s recent pieces and closer in look and tone to his more stylized short work. The film follows Philippe (Martin Dubreuil), a would-be Québécois actor stuck in an unnamed southwestern American state and forced to deal with crushing poverty, a collapsing moral order, and persecution, all sparked by an ongoing, vaguely outlined war and the odious ethics of an unseen leader, whose rants over the radio tout success at all costs. Yet all around him, Philippe only sees abject squalor and a fearsome propaganda machine recalling 1930s-era Germany. Even those he encounters who are doing comparatively well derive pleasure only from others’ pain, underscoring the depraved moral and economic conditions that contribute to and create fascism. An aloof, proud woman (Sarah Gadon) who lives in a cave/abandoned basement introduces another girl as her dog; a nasty ringmaster tortures the weak to force them to become informants. Already an outsider because of his accent, Philippe jumps from the frying pan into the fire. Fearless, striking, and disturbing, Le grande noirceur is comprised largely of tableau-type scenes laden with ominous mystery. It’s also timely, conjuring the current crisis at the US border.