for Cinetalk.net

If You are a cheese and people say you are a stinker it should probably be taken as a compliment. But if you directed a film and it is a stinker, you should think otherwise. And that’s the trouble with the opening film of Rendez-Vous Quebec Cinema‘s annual Fest, Rémi St-Michel’s first feature, Avant Qu’on Explose. It is not a cheese. But a stinker it is.

Avant Qu’on Explose is a boyhood coming of age drama-comedy-fantasy (this is no Summer of ’42) involving a race against time for young Pier-Luc to loose one’s virginity with help of his two best friends before the world (seems World War 3 is finally at the door) comes to an end.

Young lead Étienne Galloy, as Pier-Luc, offers a bland rendition of the dubious tedious, tacky writings and dialogues, signed by new local pop-star-screenwriter, Eric K Bouliane(Prank, De Père en Flic 2). Characters depths and development (especially for women) were apparently just an option he didn’t choose. With all the usual re-writing government agencies of this country are supposed to insist on, you wonder if they actually read the stuff before green lighting a project…

Actors Madani Tall, Will Murphy (the friends) and Julianne Côté, as the sister she is one of the few bright elements, seem to try hard to make the best of inept and cliché situations and should-be-funny one liners often producing the effect of a reading rehearsal. They are left wandering in the middle of an ocean…

Antoine Olivier Pilon & Monia Chokri (Of Xavier Dolan’s fame)in near cameo performances are in to sell this piece. But one thing about a sinking ship is you may have time to try to do a few things ahead (a prayer for instance)it’s still gonna sink.

It could have found some temporary salvation with some direction. These things happen you know. Well it didn’t happen this time. The passage from would-be dramatic moments to plain humor is heavily handled, thus not efficient, except for some rare moments. Because of what looks like on-set poor decision making, the ratio of available material for the editing department, inserts for instance, seems to have been an issue. At almost 2 hours with way too many overlong, uninspired sequences, it calls for some major trimming.

Beautiful Charlevoix, region of Quebec, where it was shot on location (the screenwriter’s a local)should have been an inspiration for some big time ‘money shots’. A Chinese team, an Icelandic team (or wathever) would have seized the opportunity offered by such gorgeous scenery. But we are a ‘société distincte’, so when we see a beautiful landscape we have to be stubborn and miss it (at least on camera).

Avant qu’on explose is a Bomb.

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