Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jean-Claude Lauzon - Léolo (1992)

Young Leo Lauzon is torn between two worlds - the squalid Montreal tenement that he inhabits with his severely dysfunctional (and largely insane) family, and the imaginative world that he constructs for himself through his writings, where he's Leolo Lozone, son of a Sicilian peasant (conceived in a bizarre act involving a tomato). And his experiences of growing up (especially his sexual development) affect his response to both these worlds...
At some time in our youth, many of us have soberly concluded that these large people in our house cannot be our parents. They are clumsy or brutal, lacking the divine spark we surely possess; and rather than being stolen by gypsies, we were left on their doorstep by some superior beings as a test of our ability to absorb pain and indignity. Léo (Maxime Collin), 12, is nourished by this conviction as he watches his deranged Québecois brood mismanage their lives. He renames himself Léolo after determining that his mother had actually been impregnated by a Sicilian tomato. This is the first of Lauzon's extravagant fantasies and, like other, odder ones, it is cogently grounded in the solitude that can smother any child—anybody. Lurching from the everyday obscenities of Léo's home life to his rapturous dream life and back again, Léolo takes the elixir of Latin America’s magical realism and spikes it with the tartest French-Canadian satire. Our young hero does survive a (hilarious) suicide attempt, but Lauzon, alas, did not live to make another film. He died in a plane crash at 43.

From the TIME Archive:
For a movie that worms inside a child's hopes and fears, that understands how kids can be both shaped by their family and in righteous rebellion against it, you should see—immediately—Leolo

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