Cinefranco 2019: Our Review of ‘Kuessipan’

Cinefranco 2019: Our Review of ‘Kuessipan’

Mikuan Vollant (Sharon Ishpatao Fontaine) and Shaniss Jourdain (Yamie Gregoire) are best friends. They live in the same Innu reserve but lead different lives. Mikuan lives with family, which even includes her grandmother. This should make her happy except that they pass over her and seem to prefer her hockey player brother Metshu (Cedrick Ambroise). Shaniss, on the other hand, lives with her abusive boyfriend Greg (Daniel Gregoire) and daughter. Their paths further diverge as Mikuan pursues her writing.

And of course, Mikuan also pursues a white boy, Francis (Etienne Galloy) in one of her writing classes. This is the story of Kuessipan, Myriam Verrault’s adaptation of Naomi Fontaine’s novel. And this adaptation shows the tender scenes between Mikuan and Francis. The film obviously puts this in contrast with the relationship between Shaniss and Greg. Verrault’s uses of sounds with different scenes are amazing, verging from sensory to occasional chaos.

Verrault capably photographs the wintry landscapes that is politically Northern Quebec, no one can mess that up. There’s also a slow zoom during the third act that has a great emotional impact. But there’s a scene where Mikuan imagines Quebec City through Google Earth that feels slightly clunky. Mikuan also feels ambivalent about either staying or leaving the reserve and her eureka moment is a cliche.

But those nitpicks don’t negate this film’s assets. It shows that the Innu reserve still having problems but not ones that they can manage. The reserve is, after all, a place where the loving friendship between two women blossom and will be there if they grow apart. It also shows through these girls and also through Francis the ambivalence between leaving and staying within the land. And that both ways of living are equally valid.

For more information of Kuessipan go to https://www.cinefranco.com/kuessipan.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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