Les Notres look at the pros and cons of living in a tight knit community. Magalie is a high school sophomore who has become pregnant. When she refuses to reveal the father of her baby, the town that banded together during the worst of times, begin to turn on each other. Suspicions run high and the hate that runs inside the town comes bubbling up.
Director Jeanne Leblanc takes an unflinching look at the idea of togetherness. The denizens of the fictional town of Sainte-Adeline, Quebec, Canada are a close group. While this leads to some magnificent accomplishments, it also comes with an air of superiority. The “together we can anything” philosophy quickly becomes “together we know better” attitude.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the race relations of Les Notres. The citizens are comfortable amongst each other, but are wary of outsiders. Terms like “little Mexican” and pointing out someone is “not one of us” are not seen as unsavory. Les Notres never shies away from difficult topics. Along with the obvious xenophobia, pedophile grooming is also touched upon. This is an especially tough plot point as it shows how a child can be made to be complicit by the person that is victimizing them.
The film’s emotion is made all the more powerful by the fact the seemingly obvious mystery angle is never fully pursued. Les Notres heavily hints who the father of Magalie’s unborn child is early on. This means there is less of a focus on the “is he or isn’t he” part of the story. The audience is fully engrossed in the mood created by Leblanc.
In most cases, this leads to people learning their lessons and the bad people getting their comeuppance. There are hints of that, but to the very end, the film does not want to let its audience off the hook that easily. Les Notres almost defies expectations leading to a finale that does not provide the catharsis some may hope for. It may be cynical, but it also feels more genuine.
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