Wednesday 27 November 2013

Le Dementellement

Le Dementellement is a film from Quebec, showing in the French Film Festival. It follows Gaby, a sheep farmer as he makes the difficult decision to sell his farm. He's 63 and in good health and the farm has been his life for 40 years but he's selling it because his older daughter has demanded his financial support so she can separate from her husband and buy out his share of their mansion marital home. Although Gaby had my sympathy all the way through I just wanted to shake him and tell him to wake up to the fact that his daughter was totally taking advantage of him. Meanwhile his younger daughter is playing the role of Cordelia in a stage version of King Lear.

It's a beautiful film, the camera lingering on the gorgeous scenery and the daily rhythms of life on a sheep farm. The acting is consistently excellent and understated and the story is engrossing. It is however very depressing and Gaby's passivity becomes wearing for the viewer. There seems to be no hope at the end for Gaby and with other of his elderly farming neighbours taking the decision to sell their farms, there seems little hope for the future of sheep farming either.

I seem to watch a lot of films about sheep farming. You might be interested to check out my reviews for:

Cycle - a Turkish film about a sheep washing contest

Vivan las Antipodas - a documentary that includes a section on a Chilean sheep farmer

Off the Beaten Tracks - a documentary about a Rumamian sheep farmer

Le Quattro Volte - an Italian film about charcoal making and farming (though it's goats rather than sheep)

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more.


Ms Sparrow said...

It's sad to see all the small farms disappearing along with that way of life.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

It sounds as a very engaging film although that hopelessness in a character and situation reminds me too much of Thomas Hardy who is anyway right: "It's life" but we do not need much to be reminded of that I feel, it's already too evident...sometimes we just need to be shown a "soaring" against all odds...

Lucy said...

Hmm, melancholy pastoral themed films, involving sheep and goats. There's one called 'Une hirondelle a fait le printemps' about a young woman who quits her city job to be a goat farmer and, guess what, her trouble with the local old men goat farmers who grumble about the decline of their traditional way of life etc. There was also a recent French documentary film about transhumance that was on at a local film festival round here but I didn't get to it and can't remember its name...


Très beau travail de documentation. Merci pour les infos.