Sarah Baril Gaudet’s documentary Passage observes life in the small town of Temiscamingue, Quebec through home scene and lakeside scenes. Nostalgia has been the through line within this month’s new releases. And older viewers might look at the 2019 footage of the landscapes here and feel that nostalgia. There’s also the occassional YouTube video diary, starring the burgeoning diarist is Yoan. With a whopping 100 viewers a video, Yoan tells his 50 or so subscribers about wanting to explore himself outside Temis. His best friend Gabrielle is an animal lover with no real drive to either stay or leave, but of course, the inevitable happens.
Style and observation bleed into each other here as the camera glues itself into its two young subjects. It follows Gabrielle at what looks like her second job, in charge of a convenient store at night. She’s actually doing work ethnusiastically, a contrast to my generation’s cynical outlook towards work. Meanwhile, Yoan goes to a playground at night to hang out with someone his age, as both discuss what it’s like to be gay in a small town. They both discuss how uncomfortable their grandfathers can be around them. Depsite that inconvenience, it seems like everyone else treats them better than expected.
There’s something interesting about these conversations. The documentary captures them in darkness, sometimes shooting them against light. In doing so, it looks like they’re shadows set against a playground’s lamps or a scene in Temis’ main street. It’s as if they’re commenting on what the people in their hometown are like or what the town doesn’t have. This is where style pops up even in the most subtle documentaries, as well as the are ironic layers that its style exposes. Temis might be summery and verdant, with enough resources for viewers who don’t care about excess. But it’s understandable that these young people want something else.
Small hometown angst isn’t a new subject for a film, even if it expresses that angst more subtly and in a well banaced way. Passage doesn’t transcend thos tropes, and some of the observational b-scenes might make some viewers wish for a distraction. Yoan and Gabrielle are also smarter than the average teenager. This kind of what happens in documentaries as opposed to dramatic fiction. However, there are still some things that they say that can make some viewers want to reach through the screen and talk sense into them. But then the score’s stirng music plays, and it feels like the kids are going to be alright.
Find out when and where to see Passage on https://f3m.ca/en/film/passage/.