Au clair de la lune
Format: 16mm/35mm Colour
Runtime: 90 min
National Film Board of Canada,
Les Productions Albinie
In the middle of a bitter Montreal winter, Bert (Guy L’Écuyer) and François (Michel Côté) live in a broken-down, snowbound Chevy parked permanently behind the Moonshine Bowling Alley. Bert is a former bowling champion reduced by arthritis to serving as a sandwich-board man for the Moonshine; François, a buckskin-clad albino from Albinie who appears to have magical powers, runs a tire-protection racket. At night, the Dragons (Pierre Giard, Marcel Fournier, Gilles Lafleur and Yvon Lecompte), a gang of black-jacketed neighbourhood marauders, race souped-up cars on tireless rims, while a mysterious young girl (Lucie Miville) goes around puncturing car tires in an attempt to save her father’s (Robert Gravel) tire shop from bankruptcy.
One night, Bert, chased by the Dragons, finds François almost frozen to death and revives him. François "cures" Bert’s arthritis and then tampers with the alley’s pins, allowing Bert to make a comeback and win the Moonshine tournament. As the bitter cold envelopes them in their car, their drunken victory celebration ends in near tragedy, but their friendship – or is it François’s magic? – propels them into a better world.
Over three years in the making and plagued with completion problems, André Forcier’s characteristically loopy fourth feature, like his other films, is about abandoned, marginalized people yearning for miracles. A magical, whimsical fairy tale exploring cynicism, melancholia and livelihood, it is as much an historical allegory rooted profoundly in Quebec society (Bert and François’s Chevy is identical to the one in which the body of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte was found in November 1970) as it is a surreal, slapstick comedy. Nominated for four Genie Awards, Au clair de la lune is lighter in tone than Forcier’s breakthrough film, Bar salon (1973), but just as bleak in its vision.