The Genies

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Reviewed by Marc Glassman
March 9, 2012

The Genies
Last night, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television threw its annual Genie party and I’m happy to report that a good time was had by all. The ceremony clipped along nicely; Strombo was in good form as was Rossif Sutherland and a number of other Canadian luminaries.

It was fun to see Canadian actors, directors and crew decked out in their finest. While it certainly wasn’t the Oscars, the evening struck a nice balance between glam, humour (Saskatchewan roots band the Sheep Dogs heckling Chanel references when they were paired with fashionistas), and goofy Canuck content (skaters making their moves to Genie nominated songs).

It was observed over the past week that this was a particularly strong year for the Genies, with best picture candidates ranging from Cronenberg’s psychological romance A Dangerous Method to Vallee’s odd ménage-a-trios Café de Flore to the political thriller The Whistleblower to the funny, sperm-donor comedy Starbuck to the big winner, Monsieur Lazhar. Will this be a trend? Only time will tell.

Monsieur Lazhar, a lovely tale about loss, love and education, dominated the Genies with six awards, for best picture, director, script, leading actor, supporting actress and editing. Philippe Falardeau, the film’s savvy, intelligent director and scriptwriter contributed some excellent lines:
Of Canada, he observed: “cinema is the imagination of the country;”
On directing children: “they’re bright, they’re funny, they’re luminous—and they eat far less than tech crews;”
On receiving the Best Director Genie: “I’d like to thank the Academy…of Canadian Cinema and Television;”—this was a reference, of course, to losing the Foreign Film Oscar to Iran’s A Separation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t let you in a slight surprise after my meagre performance as Nostradamus at the Oscars two weeks ago. Here’s what I wrote about Monsieur Lazhar when it was released:

“Deliberately low-key in direction, the film benefits from Falardeau’s decision to let the very dramatic story unfold in an unfettered manner. He also shows true directorial craft in eliciting fine performances from children, a very difficult thing to do.

“Falardeau is clearly a storyteller on the rise.

“It doesn’t matter if Monsieur Lazhar wins the Academy Award; just a nomination will ensure Falardeau’s film receives recognition worldwide. Personal opinion: A Separation will win the Best Foreign Film Oscar but Monsieur Lazhar will win many Genies—deservedly.”

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