by Ilinca Enache
In Sarah Polley’s film Take This Waltz, 28 year-old Margot struggles to make sense of her feelings for her husband Lou in light of her recent flirtatious relationship with her neighbor, Daniel. Food plays a crucial role in this film: the type of dish Margot eats with each of the two men reflects the point they have reached in their respective relationships. A dull dessert, in other words, signals that the end is nigh. Margot always ends up in the same place: eating fruit salad, making blueberry muffins and living in what she sees as a dreary relationship.
by Natasha Shalliker
Throughout Les bons débarras there are many scenes in which characters interact over food and drink. However, protagonist Manon – the troubled and trouble-making daughter of single mother, Michelle – does not eat at all throughout the course of the film, and her lack of appetite becomes a subject of narrative concern. For Manon, food is a vehicle of control and a way for her to exercise power as she works to make her dream — to have her mother’s love all to herself — a reality.
One of the most pivotal scenes of the entire film centres on Manon’s refusal to consume a hot dog during her birthday party. During this scene, Manon refuses the hot dog in the same moment that her rude, cruel, manipulative comments and rule-breaking behaviour come to the fore; she tells her mother that Michelle’s boyfriend has molested her. Although we have no way of knowing whether or not this is true, Manon’s manipulative behaviour throughout the film causes us to doubt the veracity of her statement. As a result, Michelle ends her relationship with Maurice, which means that Manon can monopolize her mother’s attention once more.
by Samantha Nardi
The plot of this film is driven by the incessant arguments of mother Chantale (Anne Dorval) and son Hubert (Xavier Dolan), from issues as small as the noise the mother makes while she eats, to the more serious argument that arises when she discovers her son’s hidden homosexuality. These scenes, among others in the film, are marked by the presence of food. Mentions of food, the presence of food in key moments, and most importantly, the multiple dinner scenes throughout are catalysts to the plot’s highly emotional and volatile plotline. Within a traditional familial sit-down dinner setup, these food scenes are the perfect backdrop to highlight minor grievances between mother and son. The opening sequence, framed through Hubert’s skewed perspective in a deliberately heavily edited format, is key in establishing the importance of food in the film.
The following post is the first of a five-part miniseries on food and contemporary Canadian film, prepared by students from Olivia Heaney’s ENGL 393 Canadian Cinema course at McGill University. Bon Film.
I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
by Jackie Halloran Cooper
This film follows Polly Vandersma (Sheila McCarthy), a 31-year-old amateur photographer and ‘temp-girl’ whom Gabrielle St. Peres (Paule Baillargeon) hires as an art gallery secretary during their meeting in a Japanese restaurant. Polly’s unsuccessful navigation of what is, for her, an unfamiliar cultural setting, illustrates how an individual’s status can be judged by the sophistication of their cultural taste. Immediately following the restaurant scene, Polly returns to her bachelorette apartment, where the relationship between taste and sophistication is destabilized in her interactions with food, music and objects in her home.