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« Camil Adam est doué pour un cinéma onirique, et les images, brûlantes, se bousculent, emportées par un lyrisme visuel étonnant parfois. » — Michèle Favreau, OFFICE DES COMMUNICATIONS SOCIALES (1968)
Director: Camil Adam
Screenplay: Camil Adam
Cast: Mariette Lévesque, Lucille Papineau, Yvan Canuel, Léo Illial, Jen Roger, Les Baronets (René Angelil, Jean Beaulne et Pierre Labelle), Claude Gauvreau
Producers: Camil Adam
Print Source: Cinémathèque québécoise
With Fantasia, the Cinémathèque québecoise co-presents this colourful film drawn from our collection. Largely overlooked and quite perplexing, MANETTE : LA FOLLE ET LES DIEUX DE CARTON should please fans of offbeat Quebecois films. Tackling many ideas popular in the 1960s, it revolves around Manette, a neurotic young girl who refuses to live with her parents, frequents psychiatric hospitals, fantasizes about nature, aspires to a new sexual liberty, takes fine-art courses, participates in pro-independence rallies, lives with a man out of wedlock, undergoes an clandestine abortion, sleeps with Jen Roger (the former king of the red light district), discovers masochism, threesomes and lesbianism, admires the poet Claude Gauvreau reading his poems in an underground bar where post-beatnik artists gather, and passes some time in prostitution without ever abandoning a fascination with yoga and oriental mysticism. As both a temptress of men and a victim, Manette emerges as a heroine influenced by Sade, exposed to numerous moral and sexual experimentations in the big, vice-ridden city, whose quest for the absolute would lead her simultaneiously to madness.
MANETTE : LA FOLLE ET LES DIEUX DE CARTON is a forgotten film, atypical, but symptomatic of the Quiet Revolution. It suffers noticeably from some faults in production, but the topic and the images (marvelous shots of Montreal) can still arouse the interest of twisted cinema lovers 45 years later. MANETTE aspires to the modern narrative of French New Wave cinema with its elliptical structure and poetic, unselfconscious tone (which turns quite bizarre), while its free-spirited protagonist would presage the upheaval of the sexual liberation of Quebec cinema epitomized four years later with VALÉRIE. “Camil Adam filmed this grotesque, heart-rending opera with an unrestrained, exasperating quality which transforms this demented fiction almost into a documentary. It’s incredible at what point this film seems to be a catastrophe, with some monumental screw-ups, but also how a pure, captivating beauty develops from its curious, absolute excess.” (Patrick Straram, 1968)