Les Ordres

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

In October of 1970, when I was turning seven and hearing about Jacques and Pierre Rose and the FLQ and the murder of Pierre Laporte, I was relieved to know that Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had invoked the War Measures Act. (Which, I later discover, both Premier Bourassa and Mayor Drapeau had requested.) I also objected when the Parti Québécois was elected in 1976, and was affronted by their intent to fracture the nation. This film won’t be the only relevant witness to those events and that situation, and it doubtless has things with which the better informed might quibble. But as for me and my younger self, we are pleased to stand corrected, or informed. Embarrassing, Canada.

I’m not sure what or if the I’m-an-actor, direct address stuff adds. But what starts as a gimmicky strategy slowly deepens, as these five characters are introduced and then apprehended and then variously terrorized. Kafka is unfussily made flesh, fascism comes to pass simply because power over-exercised, however semi-reasonable the original reason, tends in that direction.

Great faces! Lapointe’s Clermont registers particularly. The writing and direction of actors is good. More than that—look at that compound round-up shot taken underneath the prison—Michel Brault appears to be the world’s greatest cameraman. The conclusion is unsatisfactory, I think, but it reflects an actual and honest confusion (the author isn’t a firebrand, it seems). Sometimes clarity and closure can be something of a lie, or a unjustified presumption. Cinematically, historically essential.