On n'engraisse pas les cochons à l'eau claire
(Pigs are Seldom Clean)
Format: 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 112 min
Cinak Compagnie Cinématographique Ltée.,
Les Productions Prisma Inc.
Bob Tremblay (Jean-René Ouellet) is an RCMP narcotics agent working undercover in the student milieu in Hull, Quebec. He lives with his parents (Marthe Nadeau, J.-Léo Gagnon) and has a fiancée, HélPne (Louise Rinfret), who insists on remaining a virgin until after their marriage. Bob makes deals in pool halls, topless go-go bars and the office of his old friend, Louise (Maryse Pelletier), a CÉGEP teacher. One evening, a group of students, convinced that Bob has betrayed their friend to the police, kidnap HélPne and rape her. That same evening, Bob seduces his cousin Isabelle (Francine Ruel), who has recently arrived from Chicoutimi. The next day, he locates and arrests the rapists and is himself attacked, though it is Isabelle who dies. A little later, after meeting with Louise, Bob is assassinated by Rocket (Denys Arcand), a dope dealer who claims to be an undercover agent.
Shot in just ten days in typical film noir style, On n’engraisse pas les cochons B l’eau claire presents a bleak and hopeless vision of a world in which characters act blindly and without reason and nothing makes sense. Lefebvre aims, as he does in all his films, to further his personal interpretation of cinema’s potential. He begins and ends the film with two conflicting police reports being prepared in a typewriter. These bookend images neatly encapsulate this portrait of a man who, in Lefebvre’s words, "realizes and lives the profoundly contradictory aspirations of an apparently free man in a democratic country."
On n’engraisse pas les cochons B l’eau claire also reflects an interest in subcultures, in the marginalized members of Quebec society, that came to inform many Quebec features of the seventies. Though it is more accessible than many of Lefebvre’s other films, the complexities and inexplicable confusions of its plot may have prevented it from reaching a wide audience.