Lance et Compte (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Lance et Compte</strong> (2010)

(In French, On TV, December 2018) For French-Canadians of the past two generations, Lance et Compte is a TV classic. It began in the late 1980s as one of the first French-Canadian TV shows to adopt a more cinematic style and subject matter, à l’américaine as it moved away from dinner-table conversations and into the fast-paced, high-stakes world of hockey that has become Québec’s secular religion. I still remember schoolyard conversations about the first season of the TV show, the dead-on parody “Snappe pis bourdonne” by comic group Rock et Belles Oreilles and the national media attention given to the show. I stopped following it a few seasons later, but the show has been revived a few times in the thirty years since then, with TV movies and miniseries always extending the lives of the characters without a single reboot. The movie Lance et Compte fits into this long-running continuity by taking place between two seasons of the latest revival, featuring some characters first introduced during the TV show’s first season in the late eighties. I did not know that when I first saw the film—I presumed that it was going to be a reboot. So imagine my surprise in discovering both familiar and unfamiliar characters, trying to piece together nearly twenty years of accumulated backstory through quick conversations and passing references to past events in the show. This being said, the film does tell a specific story: How a bus accident decimates a professional hockey team, and how the team manages to get past this traumatic incident. It actually works decently well once you straighten out the character relationships, with a few surprising twists and turns as the film tries to bring back some characters (Yvan Ponton, for one) and finds out that it can’t. Series stalwart Marc Messier, Carl Marotte, Marina Orsini and Michel Forget all have good roles to play (Marotte, in particular, stages a great comeback), and even some of the most dubious plotting ideas—such as rescuing a Québec-based shoe brand—eventually work their way back into the main plot. Then there’s the paean to hockey, which always works for French-Canadians—even those who, like me, have lapsed a bit in their attendance. Slickly directed by Frédéric D’Amours, Lance et Compte plays into a fantasy-based version of professional hockey where city and team loyalties are nearly as thick as family ties—don’t try to make any comparison with the mercenary world of real-life hockey where allegiances are thin and money makes decisions. Still, it’s comforting to imagine people still being there twenty-five years later. Much of the movie rests on that kind of reassurance.

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