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Days of Darkness

This final installment of Denys Arcand's trilogy

Denys Arcand’s withering comedy about a middle-aged fantasist brought to an end the best edition of the Cannes Film Festival in years. The presence of an unprecedented six American movies in official competition had threatened to give the festival a lopsided feel, but the strength and depth of work from the rest of the world proved those fears wrong. It’s especially fitting that Arcand’s closing-night film, L’Âge des ténèbres (Days Of Darkness) should embrace the absurdity of the human condition, given the blizzard of examples that have been screened throughout the festival. Marc Labrèche plays Jean-Marc, a crumpled civil servant in Québec who spends most of his life dreaming that he is elsewhere. This mostly involves pretending that he’s a celebrity with a string of gorgeous beauties who pander to his every whim. The comical reality, of course, is that his life is ghastly. His wife is having an affair with her estate agent boss; his two teenage daughters wouldn’t notice if he dropped dead. And the hour-and-a-half commute to his office – which seems to be located in the upper deck of a football stadium – is a soul-destroying tramp to a desk in the civil rights department. Here Jean-Marc is forced to listen to endless heartbreaking injustices without legally being able to help anyone. It’s this impotent rage that the film captures so marvelously. His female boss figures in his revenge fantasies half-naked and trussed up like a Roman slave. Back in the real world, Jean-Marc drags himself once a week to a hospice to comfort his mentally sick and terrified mother. The loneliness and pain are stifling. It’s the close and uncomfortable proximity between this grey man’s fantasies and the ugly banality of life that makes the film so compellingly true. – James Christopher, London Times
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Directed by: 
Denys Arcand
Running Time: 
French with English subtitles
Marc Labrèche, Diane Kruger, Sylvie Léonard, Rufus Wainwright, Emma de Caunes
Screenplay by: 
Denys Arcand

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