Food in Canadian Film, Part 1: I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing

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.

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