Films set within one location can be a tricky thing to pull off. The director needs to maintain the almost claustrophobic intensity of the surroundings while still conveying a compelling story that audiences want to follow. Though it is a delicate tightrope to walk, Sonia Boileau proves to be up for the challenge with her feature film debut, Le Dep. Set within a town so small that one has to travel several miles to satisfy any late-night poutine cravings, Boileau crafts a complex tale of morality and the dark bonds that tie families together.
Returning home after a lengthy absence Lydia (Eve Ringuette), a young Innu woman, has resumed working at her father’s convenience store. When a co-worker misses her shift, she is asked to stay late and close up shop. Though the shift seems rather uneventful at first, things take a traumatic turn when Lydia is held-up at gunpoint by a masked assailant (Charles Buckell-Robertson). While the robbery appears to be random at first, the thug’s knowledge of the store suggests that this has been orchestrated by someone she may actually know. This sets the stage for a night where Lydia’s loyalties and values will be put to the ultimate test.
Boileau’s narrative unfolds slowly, the pieces of the puzzle are scattered throughout, but never out of the audience’s reach. She uses the heist as a catalyst for her exploration into the ways in which the sins of the parents impact the family unit. Lydia and her father (Marco Collin) have been estranged for several years, but the reasons are not explained at first. As the film progresses it becomes clear that past substance abuse has led to cracks in the familial bonds that seem irreparable. Rather than simply wallowing in the grief of the past, Boileau’s film ponders the point at which people must bear responsibility for their own future.
Le Dep clearly puts the onus on the individuals to pull themselves out of the deep waters of emotional pain that constantly threaten to drown them.
Displaying a keen visual eye and a gift for dialogue, Boileau manages to avoid making the film feel like a theatrical play. She does a solid job of building the drama and tension smoothly. The best example of this arrives when Régis (Robert-Pierre Côté), a drunken customer who has a long history with Lydia’s family, unknowingly stumbles upon Lydia and the robber. The sequence is riddled with an unnerving mix of humor and tension as the audience watches to see if Lydia will make it to the silent alarm. Similar to the majority of the film, Boileau draws the moment out with patience. She lets the emotional beats both resonate and propel the story forward.
By doing so she reaffirms the complex nature of not only the situation, but also the narrative as a whole. The sins of the father cannot be quickly absolved, but that does not mean that one needs to be shackled by them either.
Friday, October 16, 1:30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets information can be found at the imagineNATIVE website.