Set Me Free (1999 film)
|Directed by||Léa Pool|
|Produced by||Louis Laverdière|
|Written by||Léa Pool
|Music by||Robyn Schulkowsky|
|Edited by||Michel Arcand|
|Distributed by||Artistic License Films|
|Running time||94 minutes|
Emporte-Moi ("Set Me Free" or "Let me be Free" in English) is a 1999 French-Canadian film by director Léa Pool and starring Karine Vanasse. It tells the story of Hanna, a girl struggling with her sexuality and the depression of both her parents as she goes through puberty in Quebec in 1963. The film heavily references the French new-wave film "Vivre sa vie" ("It's my life") by Jean-Luc Godard.
The film won critical acclaim and several awards, both for Pool and Vanasse, including being named the year's best Canadian feature by the Toronto Film Critics Association.
Hanna is living on a farm with her grandparents and mentally handicapped uncle when she gets her first period. The onset of puberty (and her grandmother's relatively non-supportive explanation of it) trigger her decision to return to her parents in Montreal.
Returning to the city, Hanna resumes her relationships with her depressive mother, her erratic father and her brother, who is understandably usually absent from home. Hanna's mother, a fashion designer, has put aside all of her artistic dreams in favour of devoting all her time to supporting Hanna's father, an unpublished writer she believes to be a genius. Hanna's father, distant and erratic, gets a job working for a newspaper, but soon quits, and spends all day playing chess in a café while his wife thinks he is at work.
Hanna is fascinated with Anna Karina's character in the Jean-Luc Godard film "Vivre sa vie" and spends much of her time watching the film and practicing mimicking her cool detachment. She also begins to be aware of her sexuality, developing a crush on a female teacher, and kissing another girl, Laura, at a school dance.
Hanna's mother attempts suicide, and while she is recovering, Hanna is sent to get a loaf of bread by her father. The baker gropes her; then gives her money.
Hanna attempts to set Laura up with Paul; however, it is clear that the inclusion of the boy is a pretense meant to somehow undercut the implications of her attraction to Laura. This culminates in a game of Spin the bottle between the three.
Hanna decides to experiment with being a prostitute, like her idol Anna Karina, but at the last moment changes her mind. However, her john refuses to let her back out, and forces himself on her.
As the school year ends, Hannah's mother returns to her family, and Hannah finds a new way to express herself and cope with the world using a film camera lent to her by her teacher.
Emporte-Moi was well received by critics, and was given an average rating of 8/10 by reviewers. Critics generally praised the film's bittersweet tone and the performances, particularly that of Vanasse. Still, some, such as Roger Ebert, criticised the film's ending for seeming somewhat forced.
Emporte-Moi, released in the United States on a single screen, grossed only $74,052 at the box-office.
Emporte-Moi received a large number of awards. Pool earned Genie nominations for best director and best screenplay, and the film was awarded the Toronto Film Critics Association Award for best Canadian film of 1999. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Emporte-moi was awarded the Special Jury Citation for Best Canadian Feature Film, and Vanasse earned the Special Jury Congratulation for her work on the film. It also received four Jutra awards, for best actress (Vanasse), supporting actress (Bussières), direction, and art direction, and was nominated in four other categories.
Internationally, the film received the Swiss Film Prize and was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival. It was also honoured at international film festivals in the United States, Italy, Belgium, Bosnia, and Spain.
Emporte-moi is a joint Canadian/Swiss/French production.
- Karine Vanasse as Hanna
- Pascale Bussières as Hanna's mother
- Miki Manojlovic as Hanna's father
- Alexandre Mérineau as Paul, Hanna's brother
- Charlotte Christeler as Laura
- Nancy Huston as Teacher
- Monique Mercure as Hanna's grandmother
- Jacques Galipeau as Hanna's grandfather
- Carl Hennebert-Faulkner as Martin
- Neil Kroetsch as pawnbroker
- Michel Albert as security guard
- Gary Boudreault as baker
- Marie-Hélène Gagnon as landlord
- Suzanne Garceau as nurse
- Normand Canac-Marquis as Hanna's john