The Fireflies Are Gone

****

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

The Fireflies Are Gone
"The film demands and receives a strong and forceful performance from Karelle Tremblay who is more than able to rise to the challenges." | Photo: Courtesy of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

It has a touch of the freshness of Juno about it in its depiction of a troubled teenage girl Léo (effectively caught by Karelle Tremblay) who is trying to sort out her life and future.

Her prospects aren’t helped by a frosty mother (Marie-France Marcotte) and her slightly sleazy stepfather whom she detests with a venom.

Copy picture

The scene is set right from the start when Léo arrives late for her 17th birthday then sneaks off without a warning. Meanwhile she has taken on just about everyone around the table including her godmother. She has no idea what she wants to do in the long term.

Although she has a coterie of school friends she’s not really part of the gang. The only positivity in the small town is her relationship with her father who works further north after his factory closed down. As a union official he did not win any friends during the demise of his source of employment. Léo and he have a close and warm relationship, catching up on his occasional visits home.

She fills her summer with a job at the local sports field and takes up guitar lessons leading to a formative relationship with music teacher Steve, played with engaging skill by Pierre-Luc Brilliant, who lives in the basement of his mother’s house. They forge a worthwhile bond that has no other connotations.

The film demands and receives a strong and forceful performance from Karelle Tremblay who is more than able to rise to the challenges. She has a presence that never disappoints and on the evidence here is a true revelation.

The coming of age tag can often seem forced and clichéd but Pilote avoids most of the pitfalls along the way.

In one telling exchange, Léo suggests that the bay on which the town nestles can be looked at in two ways: “If you look this way, it’s an opening on the world. The other way, and it’s a dead end.”

The metaphor sums up Pilote’s concerns about the restless dynamic of teenage angst - an age when it could all go horribly wrong, or open up exciting opportunities.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2018
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The sleepy town where Léo lives doesn’t offer her much chance of self-fulfilment. Extricating herself from her mother’s influence and her constricting environment isn’t easy for the frustrated young woman, yet happiness might be close at hand.

Festivals:

Karlovy 2018

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