The Confessional | Chicago Reader

The Confessional

This 1995 feature, the first film directed by Canadian theatrical auteur Robert Lepage, works on so many levels that watching its elaborate, erudite storytelling unfold is exhilarating in itself. After years of absence, Pierre (Lothaire Bluteau) returns to his native Quebec City for his father?s funeral; the occasion brings back memories of his family?s past and prompts him and his adopted brother, Marc (Patrick Goyette), to search for the identity of Marc?s father. Lepage cuts back and forth between 1989 and 1952, when Alfred Hitchcock was in town shooting I Confess and a local priest, to whom Marc?s mother confessed the father?s identity, faced a moral dilemma like the one encountered by the priest in Hitchcock?s film. As in Lepage?s theater work, the plot can seem digressive and coincidental; only toward the end are the film?s logic and central mystery revealed, heightening the emotional suspense to the level of catharsis. Lepage has always favored the visual over the verbal, and aided by actors and technicians from his theater company he uses choreographed camera movement and coordinated color and sound to create a mise-en-scene as crafty and meticulous as Hitchcock?s. References to the master abound (including Lepage?s cameo appearance), and the lanky, ascetic Bluteau resembles both Montgomery Clift and Anthony Perkins, his doleful gaze imbued with Catholic guilt and Freudian urges. With Kristin Scott Thomas. 100 min.

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