Femme Filmmakers Festival 7 Review: Joutel

Year: 2022

Runtime: 15 minutes

Director/Writer: Alexa-Jeanne Dubé

Cast: Marie Tifo, Pierre Curzi

By Joan Amenn

Joutel was a mining town in Canada and the title of this film includes the dates 1965-1998, which was the duration of the community’s existence. By drawing a metaphor for the lifespan of a place being similar to that of a human being, “Joutel” is a touchingly somber and elegiac short film that has strong performances by its tiny cast. However, the inclusion of a furry woodland creature in the mix muddies the film’s message and confuses the viewer.

 Marie Tifo and Pierre Curzi have great chemistry together as an elderly couple who indulge each other in their small interests, (she sings in church and he tends to their house) and the film is at its strongest when it focuses on their relationship. Their fears and regrets come to the surface when they discover a recently deceased critter-but is it dead? There could be many interpretations to what this all means but the viewer is pulled out of the story by the jarring reappearance of the creature. “Joutel” has a wonderful score that lends itself beautifully to the overall emotional theme of loss but this is unfortunately undercut by the plot twists.

“Joutel” closes with a photo montage of the birth of the town with the incoming mobile homes and the young families who moved in when there was work to be had and a good life could be led there. Now only the ghosts remain but those ghosts would be human as nature slowly reclaims the land. Perhaps that is the best argument to be made for including a representative from the woods as a sort of spirit guide to the main characters but how this personification was handled does nothing for the story of their lives onscreen.


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