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(Updated April 20)



Il pleuvait des oiseaux

(And The Birds Rained Down)

Based on the bestselling novel by Jocelyne Saucier

And The Birds Rained Down, by Louise Archambault (Gabrielle) homes in on a loose alternative family of oldies and drifters living in the backwoods of Quebec. A quiet, gentle film about emotional and geographic exile, this melancholic charmer is a choral character study whose slow pacing matches the unhurried lifestyle of its protagonists. There’s a resonance to the film’s probing of lost and found love, age and displacement.

Poster for the alernative retirement drama Il pleuvait des oiseauxIn a beautifully shot opening sequence we are introduced to a trio of white-haired old men who live in cabins in the woods and bathe together in the lake. Ted (Kenneth Welsh) is a taciturn painter who traps rabbits, Tom (Rémy Girard) is a guitar-strumming musician and singer, while the wary Charlie (Gilbert Sicotte) seems to be the unofficial headman of the group, and the one who, at first, most fiercely defends them from outsiders.

Steve (Éric Robidoux), a thirty-something who owns a hunting lodge nearby, is the only one allowed in to their woodland realm to deliver supplies. Through him, two outsiders arrive to disturb the fragile equilibrium. One is Steve’s elderly aunt  – Gertrude (Andrée Lachapelle), a long-term resident of a psychiatric institution. The other is Raf (Ève Landry), a female photographer who is compiling testimonies of the ‘Great Fire’ that happened at some point in the past, and taking portraits of the survivors.

On one level, And the Birds Rained Down (that’s what happened during the Great Fire, it seems) is a small bucolic drama about a group of misfits who re-create a more caring society away from society. But it’s also about the importance of individual and collective memory, about whether we have a right to disappear or a duty to bear witness.

– Lee Marshall, Screen International

Vivre selon ses convictions, loin de la civilisation, poussé par le besoin irrépressible « de n’exister pour personne, » c’est ce qui a poussé Tom (Rémy Girard) et Charlie (Gilbert Sicotte) à se réfugier dans une cabane au fond des bois. Loin de la cohue urbaine, leur existence est faite de piégage de lièvres au collet, de baignade dans un lac en tenue d’Adam et de culture du cannabis.

Leur rencontre avec une pugnace journaliste (Ève Landry) qui mène l’enquête sur le tragique incendie de forêt qui a ravagé la région jadis, viendra chambouler leur quotidien. Suivra, celle-là encore plus déterminante, celle avec Gertrude (Andrée Lachapelle), une octogénaire au passé marquée par des abus de traitements psychiatriques.

La réalisatrice s’y prend de façon très touchante pour montrer ces vieux ermites dans toute leur vulnérabilité. Ancien musicien de bar, le bourru mais attachant Tom se refuse à retourner à la civilisation, quoi qu’il advienne. Charlie, un rescapé du cancer, savoure la chance de pouvoir bénéficier d’une seconde vie qui, contre toute attente, trouvera le bonheur auprès de la fragile Gertrude.

Il pleuvait des oiseaux, malgré son sujet, ne succombe pas au misérabilisme. Cet hymne à la liberté se veut un émouvant plaidoyer en faveur du libre arbitre, mais aussi sur le besoin d’amour auquel personne ne peut échapper.

Un très beau film, empreint d’un humanisme salvateur.

– Normand Provencher, Le Soleil

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