Are we watching or not? The night Laurier Gaudreault was woken up by Xavier Dolan (Canal +).
Filmmaker Xavier Dolan delivers a tight and disturbing family psychological thriller in The Night Laurier Gaudreault Woke Up.
What is the night Laurier Gaudreault woke up? In 1991, Mireille Larouche used to cheat her insomnia by breaking into her neighbors’ house to watch them sleep. But one night Laurier Gaudreault, a friend of her brother Julien, woke up… Years after cutting ties with her family, Mireille (Julie Le Breton) returns to Montreal in 2019 while her mother (Anne Dorval) lies dying . The renowned thanatologist has to embalm the corpse and in doing so finds her brothers Julien (Patrick Hivon), Denis (Éric Bruneau) and Elliot (Xavier Dolan) as well as Julien’s wife Chantal (Magalie Lépine-Blondeau). But his return brings to the surface a painful past linked directly to that fateful night nearly thirty years ago.
This is the second time Xavier Dolan has adapted a play by playwright Michel Marc Bouchard. After Tom on the farm in cinemas in 2019, the Quebec director (to whom we also owe films like Mommy, Laurence anyway etc I killed my mother) tackles the format of the series this time The night Laurier Gaudreault woke upbroadcast on Canal+.
From this behind-closed-doors embalming-room play, Dolan plots intense psychological drama in five hour-long episodes, in which several actors who acted in the original play reprise their roles. With more space in terms of places and times, the series delves into the characters while increasing the tension in this dark family history from which no one (including viewers) will emerge unscathed.
Throughout the series we find the distinctive traits of Dolan’s work. The 1990s, busy sets, polished production, attention to detail, strong dialogue, emblematic female characters, family trauma… elements that the director perfectly adapted to the series construction. And anyone who knows his films will understand why he relied on the story of this family, each one carrying the weight of an event thirty years ago.
What happened in Val-de-chutes in October 1991 the night Laurier Gaudreault woke up ? What tragedy so devastated the family that they are still scarred? Each episode, whose title begins “The Night That…” gives us the keys one by one: from the past to the present, we navigate between the fateful night in which Laurier Gaudreault starred and the aftermath thirty years later . Mireille has severed all ties with her family and suffers from nymphomania, Denis is a compulsive hoarder unable to recover from his divorce, Julien is trapped in an unhappy marriage and hates his sister, Elliot is a wreck, overcome by drugs and Alcohol destroys. In short, a family in pain, locked in their misery and keeping the mother at bay, where only the sparkling Chantal brightens the atmosphere a bit.
Supported by absolutely stunning actors (special mentions to Julie Le Breton and Patrick Hivon), the story is extremely powerful, halfway between family tragedy and psychological thriller. It’s not all black, there are brief flashes of light, but it’s basically scary. On the one hand the camera, which meticulously follows the gestures or the faces of the figures, the decors overloaded like so many paintings; on the other hand, the mysteries, the regrets, the resentments, the unsaid, the loneliness and the uneasiness of the characters. Everything is tense but subdued until an explosion occurs Firm in the fourth episode, between Mireille and Julien. A brutal and inevitable, but perhaps also cathartic, confrontation that can either devastate or save what can still be saved…
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We love less
In reality what we like The night Laurier Gaudreault woke upthis is what may put some viewers off: Dolan’s distinctive style, a storytelling that takes its time, the darkness of the story.
As we said before, Xavier Dolan has taken up this story that already seems to focus some of his favorite themes to bring together everything we like (or not…) in his work. So the series is not for those who totally resist his cinematic work.
It’s also a series that gives itself the space it needs to build its atmosphere, set the context, distill the cues, and develop its characters bit by bit. Which is certainly necessary and helps to escalate the tension, but that slowness may put some viewers off – especially in the first episode. They must agree to allow the lava to smolder beneath the surface before the devastating eruption takes place.
And then there’s the theme at the heart of the series: the story of a dysfunctional family in shambles, all hurting and tearing themselves apart over a nearly thirty-year-old secret. Even if we quickly guess what happened on the famous title night, the tension and uneasiness remain significant even in the lighter sequences. Even the seemingly happier moments (like a karaoke sequence) are loaded with disturbing subtext if you bother to decipher them.
We’ll see if… we’re fascinated by family stories worthy of a Greek tragedy, somewhere between drama and thriller; we are ready to let ourselves be carried away by a strong narrative on a psychological level; We love Xavier Dolan.
We’re not looking if… we’re looking for a light and feel-good story; we want a series that favors action rather than the emotions and torments of the characters; We are sensitive to certain psychologically heavy issues.
The night Laurier Gaudreault woke up.
5 episodes of about 55′.
On Canal+ – available on MyCanal.