quebec-montreal (2002)


director: ricardo trogi

patrice robitaille, jean-phillippe pearson, isabelle blais, francois letourneau

There’s precious little connecting the three carloads of twentysomethings heading south on Highway 20 from Quebec City to Montreal in Ricardo Trogi’s Quebec-Montreal. There’s a shared horniness, perhaps, and the free-floating anxiety common to young people whose lives haven’t taken on anything like a definite, viable shape. This kind of premise practically constitutes a whole subgenre of film, which can take the shape of either comedy or drama, though the essential absurdity of twentysomething life is better served by the former than the latter.

Trogi’s film, thankfully, is a comedy, albeit an odd, convulsive one. The greatest comic possibility is in the car containing three young men on their way to catch a flight to a week in the sun in Cuba. The driver has just gotten back together with his girlfriend, unaware that his two buddies shared a threesome with her during their break-up, and that one of his pals, the dreaded, dangerous, hopeless romantic, is sickly with love for her.

In another car, two co-workers are on their way to a conference, the driver unhappily infatuated with his co-worker, the sexy office flirt. A third car contains a couple on their way to a new life in the big city, one enthusiastically, one full of annoying, querulous reluctance. The barely last a half hour before splitting up, random particles launched into the obstacle couse of Highway 20.

The film, written by Trogi and two of the actors in the first car - where the partially improvised dialogue is, not surprisingly, the most assured - is the kind of fantastic comedy where the newly liberated guy from the third car can end up in a conversation with the animated moose from a “moose crossing” sign on the side of the road, and a gleaming, idealized couple in a red sportcar cruise past the cast at pivotal moments. It happens in a world where rich, predatory older men in fully-loaded SUVs cruise the highway picking up stragglers, acting on but not reacting to the romantic angst of younger people.

It’s a well-observed, smart, but hopeless take on the decade of our life where the emotional training wheels come off, to sometimes disastrous effect, and the kind of film that can - and should - be made by a clever young filmmaker, but only once. Something Trogi and his talented collaborators should remember well.