Festival Fare with Alessandro: Miraculum
Nobody clapped during the credits, but it wasn’t that bad?
Genre: Ensemble Drama
Director: Daniel “Podz” Grou
Featuring: Marilyn Castonguay, Xavier Dolan, Anne Dorval
Production Company: Item 7
Duration: 110 mins
In French with English Subtitles
Reviewed By Alessandro Hutt
It’s rare that I see a film where no one claps during the credits. The first was Best Intentions, but that film definitely deserved it. Sure Miraculum wasn’t the best film I have ever seen but not even one person for a half of a clap?
In this ensemble drama about interlocking lives we have many different situations. A Jehovah’s witness (Marilyn Castonguay) must navigate her religions restrictions on giving blood, both in the workplace and at home. Xavier Dolan, going against typecasting with this choice of role, plays her dying husband who won’t accept medical help. Elsewhere, two aging casino employees (Julien Poulin and Louise Turcot) plan a romantic getaway. A successful businessman (Robin Aubert) deals with a gambling problem. His tortured wife (a wasted Anne Dorval) is an lonely alcoholic. Finally, a drug mule (Gabriel Sabourin, also the writer of the film) must repay a serious debt. Oh – and somehow a huge plane crash that connects them all. I actually forgot the plane crash was even a thing until doing proofreading on this review. That should tell you something!
Even so, I honestly do not know why Miraculum was greeted with silence. Sure it was a depressing film, but not an angering one. There are some instances where characters we don’t like win (ie, the airport employees) but that is commonplace among festival films.
Perhaps it was the lack of likable characters. Personally the only character I could connect to was the beleaguered husband of Louise (the adulterer airport employee). I also despise both Louise and Raymond for their selfishness. Gilbert Sicotte played the husband, and I felt his anguish and despair quite vividly. One of his characters’ lines becomes a thesis for the film as well – albeit a little too clumsily.
Perhaps it was the heavy handed ending that turned people off. It was a cheap shot at the audience, and could be seen as a direct attack on religion. As a result – the plane crash feels even more disconnected than it was at the beginning of the film. Over the course of the film, the only storyline it truly affects is that of the Jehovah witness couple. Yet even in that tale none of the actors are given enough time to bring their characters to life – a common problem across Miraculum. Most wasted is Anne Dorval, who doesn’t get to use any of her excellent acting chops in a thankless dead end role.
Even now, I’m not sure what caused such a reaction by the audience. By my standards Miraculum was only mediocre, not horrid. I won’t be forwarding any people to watch it though. Not unless they feel like being depressed about human relationships.