Set during Christmas time in the late 1940s, Mon Oncle Antoine is a coming of age tale that revolves around young Benoit (Jacques Gagnon), his family members and the residents of the small mining town that he lives in. On this particular Christmas, Benoit will learn a fair bit about sex and death, while others will be reminded of lessons they learned a long time ago about the class structure.
Directed by Claude Jutra (who also takes a small, but vital, role and co-wrote the screenplay with Clement Perron), Mon Oncle Antoine is one of those little movies that resonates with many viewers.I certainly didn't dislike it. I just felt that nothing much happened to draw me into the world I was being presented with.
The acting is all pretty good, especially from young Gagnon (who gives a nice, natural performance), but this is a movie so seemingly lightweight that it almost blows away like so much dust in the wind. I say seemingly lightweight because the themes being looked at are actually quite deep ones, you just don't notice that as the various vignettes play out (an observation I am not putting here as a criticism - this shows how well Jutra handles the material).
There's nothing wrong, of course, with a movie being put together with such a light touch, and the numerous people who agree with this being one of the greatest films of all time (and one of the greatest Canadian films ever made) will be quick to point that out. The only problem I have with the film is that, for some reason, it doesn't strike a chord with me in the way that, for example, My Life As A Dog did. Or King Of The Hill. Or even, more recently, The Kid With A Bike.
With solid support from Jean Duceppe, Monique Mercure, Lyne Champagne, Olivette Thibault and Jutra, this has plenty (and plenty of other people) to recommend it. It just didn't really work for me.