Chasse-Galerie: La légende (2016) - A charming piece of French-Canadian culture - 8/10 (01/07/16)
''Chasse-Galerie: La légende'' is a French-Canadian movie about one of the nation's most popular folk tales about a group of voyageurs working at a remote timber camp who make a deal with the devil to visit their sweethearts back home on New Year's Eve in a flying canoe.
This movie uses the most important parts of the legend but adds a few additional elements to tell a more intimate story about a poor lumberjack called Jos Lebel and his secret girlfriend Liza Gilbert who is also desired by the rich notary Romain Boisjoli who does everything to convince the young woman to become his wife while her boyfriend is absent for work. When Jos Lebel finds out that the notary hired people at the timber camp that made the letters to his girlfriend disappear and even tried to harm him, he decides that he must go home to tell his sweetheart the truth and prevent a wedding between the manipulative notary and the naive young woman. Joined by other workers at the camp who want to see their girlfriends and wives after many rough months in the icy woods, they make a pact with the devil and take a flying canoe to their hometown for one fateful night.
Aside of telling a revamped version of a fascinating tale, this movie convinces with breathtaking settings that bring the charm of the French-Canadian territories in the late nineteenth century to life. The rural hometown, the modernized city of Montreal and the remote camp look very realistic. The costumes, engines and even vocabulary of that time add to the charm of this movie.
The acting is also quite good. Francis Ducharme convinces as courageous, juvenile and passionate lumberjack just like his counterpart Vincent-Guillaume Otis is spot on as elegant, manipulative and sneaky notary. The most intriguing character is probably a mysterious figure portrayed by François Papineau who turns out to be the antagonist of the story and the devil's advocate. Even though Caroline Dhavernas' limited acting skills meander too quickly between a woman who knows what she wants and a woman who doesn't know anything at all, her performance in this film is clearly the best I have seen so far.
In the end, this movie is highly recommendable if you are intrigued by folk tales in general and by French-Canadian culture in particular. ''Chasse-Galerie: La légende'' is entertaining from start to finish, is both atmospheric and relatively realistic and convinces with a solid story line and above average acting.
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