Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Posting on the top-grossing-ever Canadian-made film isn't in fact as far away from my usual content here as it may appear - after all, this is a film about English-French relations and language issues in Canada. So, of course, I enjoyed it immensely!

I am late in the game to be posting about this movie, but I can explain my delay with the following two reasons:
1) It only just played in Sackville on Thursday night, as part of the Film Society's series - where, I might add, it was greeted with mass approval, and applause after the movie (which doesn't usually happen).
2) I wanted to see it in both official languages before I posted my take on the movie.

You may be asking yourself what the heck do I mean by seeing Bon Cop, Bad Cop in both official languages? Isn't the whole point of the movie that the dialogue is in both English and in French? Well, yes, except that the prints that play in theatres only give subtitles for one language. I saw this film for the first time back in August in Dieppe (part of the tri-city area of Moncton, for those not from the region). Catering to the local francophone population, and unbeknownst to me until we walked into the theatre, the Dieppe screen had the French version - which meant that if I wanted to know how Colm Feore's English dialogue was translated for a French audience, I was set. But if I wanted to understand comedian Louis-José Houde's (the medical examiner Jeff) rapid-fire French, I was left to my own devices. And like Colm Feore's character, Detective Martin Ward, I was only able to catch about half of what he said. The Sackville screening had the English print - so I now know what both English-speaking and French-speaking audiences saw.

The plot device around which the movie turns - an ongoing investigation into a serial killer who is working his way through the hockey establishment - is merely a convenient excuse for the real point of interest of the movie, which is to examine the human relationships - both the central one between Patrick Huard and Colm Feore's Toronto and Montreal cops, and their various familial relationships as well. Their characters are very well fleshed out, and this film surprisingly contains some of the most powerful acting that I've seen in a long time, in a short exchange between Huard and Lucie Laurier, who plays his ex-wife Suzie (when you've seen the movie, you'll know which scene I mean).

The film is also an interesting case study of perceptions - both how Quebeckers perceive Ontarians, and how they think they are perceived by Ontarians. I wish that I could claim credit for having come up with that, but I think it was Kelly Nestruck who tipped me off to that dynamic before I went to see the film. The language jokes and sly political references are great, and even better if you speak both languages. Some of them are untranslatable, and if you're only reading the subtitles, you will miss the odd line or two. I'm hopeful that when this movie goes to DVD, the subtitlers provide multiple options - I'd say that it needs a no-subtitles, English-only, French-only, and English-and-French version.

If you haven't seen this movie, you're missing out. My understanding is that it's been wildly popular in Quebec, but hasn't done nearly so well in the rest of the country. This is a real shame, as it's a great film. It also speaks to a larger trend of English-speaking Canadians missing out on top-notch Quebec films, which often fail to get major distribution in the rest of the country. Last year's C.R.A.Z.Y. is a great example of a film that should have had much wider distribution across the country, but didn't get it. Bon Cop, Bad Cop is perhaps more user-friendly with its bilingual format, and I'm hoping that it will get a second wind, and a major DVD campaign.

Recommend this Post


At 2:58 pm, Blogger Al B Here said...

I absolutely agree with your review of the film. Though I believe it's acceptance in the rest of the country is a relative thing. For a "Canadian film" it's done rather well. Case in point, it managed to survive for about 3 weeks in my hometown of London, Ontario. I don't think C.R.A.Z.Y. even hit the screens there.

Naturally it continues to play in Quebec, but they tend to be more supportive of homegrown products than we anglophones are (at least in Ontario). I'm looking forward to seeing what they do for the sequel that starts filming in the fall of 2007.

At 8:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This film definitely receives a 5-star review from me. Being someone who spends a lot of time both in Toronto and Montreal, I can identify with both the quebecois and angliphone themes.

'Bon Cop Bad Cop' showcases the quirks of english-speaking and french-speaking Canada, and ultimately allows all of us to laugh at eachother and ourselves. Quebec is a province that will always be dear to those who spend any amount of time there, and I'm hoping this film relays that feeling to other Canadians as well.

For the next three years, I'm studying in Germany. This winter, we're having an international film festival at our university and I will be showing 'Bon Cop Bad Cop'.

I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I have!


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