» » 20h17 rue Darling (2003)

Short summary

A former journalist, three times divorced, Gerard is now a member of Alcoholics Anonymous who lives in a small apartment on Darling Street. By a combination of circumstances, he isn't home when his building explodes one evening, causing the death of six people. Moved by the fact that he has escaped death, Gerard finds his old journalistic instincts returning and decides to research his dead neighbors' past to understand what occured, but also to give meaning to this terrible event.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Beazerdred
    i just saw this film, and it certainly deserved the accolades it received at cannes.

    the writing and acting are excellent, as we follow gerard/gerry, a barely dry journalist, hunt down the stories of those who died in the explosion that destroyed his apartment building. his alcoholism ups the tension as he tries to make meaning out of why someone like him survives the blast, while 'innocents' die. bernard emond has written a great film, and luc picard is especially terrific. the characters are great and overall, this film never even teeters near the edge of maudlin nor overblown drama -- it quietly and swiftly builds a film experience that feels authentic. this is rare in a music-video/cartoon-as-film world.

    as a bonus for those who know montreal, emond is particularly true to neighbourhood socio-demographics, values, and locations.

    i'm going to watch this one again, something i rarely do.
  • comment
    • Author: Andronrad
    This film follows its lead character, Gérard (actor Luc Picard), an alcoholic, former journalist, as he struggles to make sense of a tragic explosion that killed nearly all the neighbors in his apartment building, including a little girl named Josie. The cause: unknown - even to a veteran fire inspector poking through the rubble. So Gérard sets off on his own investigation, seeking out numerous local characters who fill him in with what bits and pieces they have.

    The question the keeps recurring is: "Why? Why me? Why did I survive?" In retrospective monologues, Gérard looks upon himself as a 'drunken no-good', deserving least to survive, while innocent little Josie is dead. Though Gérard is estranged from God, he seems to invoke his judgment at every turn. This feels quite Catholic despite the character's cynicism and disavowal of religion, and it also seems to capture a certain AA mindset very well. The characters are such that one can easily be drawn in and sympathize.

    Montreal's Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district is exactly as it is. The characters bring it to life, and reveal a culture in an intimate way that an outsider might never otherwise know. It's fascinating; many details give it depth. The spoken French is the local joual, for the most part quite warm. Fortunately, for an anglo trying to master Québécois French, this film is close-captioned in French (rare, I've found, for French films –especially Québécois films - as they often don't have the budget for close-captioning). So, one is able to follow the French word-for-word. Of course it has the standard optional English subtitles.

    This is my favorite Québécois film - actually one of my favorite films, ever. I've enjoyed it many times. Qualities that keep drawing me back to it again and again are its haunting musical theme (piano, violin and cello), scenes of Montreal, portrayal of characters who have the capacity to really grow on you, and of course the ongoing, soul-searching monologues - invaluable for mastering an ear for Québécois French.
  • comment
    • Author: Lightseeker
    Bernard Emond's gentle film, "20 h 17 Rue Darling" explores life as it is. He reveals it slowly. Teasing out it's mystery as his protagonist teases our the meaning of his life lived badly.

    Life is complex, yet simple; full of meaning, but also without meaning. Enui contrasts with spontaneity. And yet it goes on, with caring and hope.

    While the ending is ambiguous, yet so is life's ending. I was left with hope that life lived one day at a time would suffice. I return to this film often, both on DVD and also on memory. I believe you too will take this film with you. In times of trouble, it too may give you comfort.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Luc Picard Luc Picard - Gérard
    Diane Lavallée Diane Lavallée - Chantal
    Zhenhu Han Zhenhu Han - Le Chinois (as Zenhu Han)
    Markita Boies Markita Boies - Madame Caron
    Michel Mongeau Michel Mongeau - Le policier
    Micheline Bernard Micheline Bernard - Madame Laperrière
    Louis Bélanger Louis Bélanger - Le caméraman
    Louis Sincennes Louis Sincennes - Le chef pompier
    Alex Bisping Alex Bisping - Un pompier (as Alexandre Bisping)
    Claude Lemieux Claude Lemieux - Le chauffeur des sinistrés
    Yvon Roy Yvon Roy - François
    Patrick Drolet Patrick Drolet - Karl
    Cédric Pépin Cédric Pépin - Patrick
    Vincent Bilodeau Vincent Bilodeau - Lieutenant Geoffrion
    Guylaine Tremblay Guylaine Tremblay - Angéla
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