This was clearly engineered to enhance the Quebecois birth rate. And it just might work.
Movies are not about life, but life is about movies, and the people here know this. So we have a movie that starts with a movie about the main character’s childhood. This first movie is narrated by the main character. This is conscious, and brings the point home.
When the first movie ends, we are taken into the second movie, the one about the family, the music, and the homosexual identity. What is interesting is how the filmmaker of the first movie, our hero, works the style of the first movie into the second one. He really made both movies. He makes us believe that he has no control over the second one by making all the events just happen and not having any of the initial narration. In that way, events can happen the way they happen in real life. This is a magician’s trick. Very clever.
The rest is what you expect. Everything here is engineered to show tension between what we know of the characters, and what they know about themselves. We stand at the same point as the hero. We pass judgement on everyone else. This is Hollywood scriptwriting. Flawed characters are always the most neutral characters, they are the ones easier to like.
An interesting cinematic trick: notice how the seasons change dramatically. Between scenes the climate goes from winter, to summer, to fall, in a random fashion. This is done subtly so as to not put us off. It works here because we know Montreal.
But this film is no cinematic monument. It manipulates you into feeling. I know, I wept.
See this for the tears. But it will never make you feel good about yourself. Unless you relate to the homosexual identity conflict.
Also, music here is used in Scorsese fashion. In fact, the way the narrative is character-driven makes for a Scorsesean stylistic. It feels warm.