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A Montreal film to be proud of

by Archives September 15, 2009

Winner of the Audience Award at the recent Montreal World Film Festival, Roger Cantin’s Un Cargo Pour L’Afrique has ideas to spare and ambition to boot.
The story deals with Herbert (Pierre Lebeau), a man who has dedicated 20 years of his life to humanitarian work in Africa who comes back to Quebec and ends up depressed. Herbert wants to be deported back to Africa- his willingness to return is part of the film’s restrained humour. While he plots his way out of Quebec, he befriends a boy who is a neighborhood troublemaker (Julien Adam) and they form a predictable -but somewhat touching- friendship that anchors the film.
Both Lebeau and Adam are incredible in their respective roles, bringing depth and grace every time they’re together on screen -especially Lebeau spot on comedic timing. The script,however, hits too many bumps along the way to be considered a great film.
The film suffers slightly because of its predictability; it is essentially a very simple story about the shared bond of the young and the old, and life and death. Aside from these flaws, there is something to be had here. The transcendent African soundtrack by Ned Bouhalassa brings exotic delights to the images Cantin unleashes onscreen.
The film’s final scene is graced with touching grit and a lack of melodrama that , although predictable , feels right and wholesome.
Un Cargo Pour L’Afrique may not be perfect but once it hits its stride, you cannot help but feel proud that this film is home-grown.

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