Food in Canadian Film, Part 3: Les bons débarras

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.