Films made in French in Quebec often do much better locally and internationally than their English Canadian brothers. A movie like The Auction is an excellent example of why. The story is very local yet immediately universal while the cinematography is stunning but does not draw attention to itself as such. I am usually very pleased with a Film Movement release and this one is yet another excellent choice for those who like foreign films that are not just art house gimmicks.
Sixty something Gaby (Gabriel Arcand) has been raising sheep on the family farm all his life and doing so alone for the last ten years or so. Marie, one of his two daughters shows up out of the blue for a visit. It is not a selfless act as Marie needs a major sum of money to buy out her soon to be divorced husband's share of their Montreal home. Even though his accountant and closest friend is dead set against it because farming is all Gaby knows and he has nowhere else to go, Gaby decides to break up the farm and auction off the parts (hence the French title “Le demantelement”) so he can once again spoil his daughters.
The situations are remarkably well set up. For example, early in the movie Gaby goes to visit another farmer who has decided to give up farming. The social commentary is also elegantly done both through situations and through comments made by secondary characters such as the young man who shows Gaby an apartment in town and who says, “The first time, they will come and visit you. After that, forget it.” It is also not a coincidence that Gaby's second daughter Frederique is an actress who is working on the role of Cordelia in King Lear but you should not read too much into that.
The Auction tells a tale familiar to anyone who has lived in the country or is familiar with farming life both in the Americas and Europe. Here, it is told in a subdued and very picturesque way without any artifice or rote endings.
Each Film Movement DVD includes a short. This time it is Spain's The Giant directed by Luis Da Matta and Julio Vanzeler. It is the original and beautifully animated story of a little girl who lives in a giant's heart. It is poetic, touching, and memorable
Film Movement titles reviewed here that particularly stand out. They too include links to other good choicesBelgium - Illegal