Séraphin: un homme et son péché [Séraphin: Heart Of Stone] (2002)

(In French, On DVD, March 2004) I don’t usually respond very well to manipulative tearjerkers or works glorifying Quebec’s rural history, which makes Séraphin all the more surprising. Yes, it’s shameless in how it sets up a tragic love triangle between manly hero, selfless heroine and sadistic villain. But just as you think that it’s never going to work… it does. Quasi-parody scenes turn out well and the film is involving even as it’s playing all of the obvious cards. The lead trio (Roy Dupuis, Karine Vanasse and Pierre Lebeau) does excellent work, but it’s the cinematography of the film that steals the show; the historical re-creation of the era is top-notch, with plenty of telling details and beautiful shots. Charles Binamé’s direction is constantly interesting and even the most ridiculous moments (ah, tastefully-placed sunlight…) are effective. I’m not sure how foreign audiences will respond to a romance set in 1890 rural Québec, but even I am surprised at how well it played to me.

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