Good Riddance (film)

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Good Riddance
Good Riddance.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Francis Mankiewicz
Produced by Marcia Couëlle
Claude Godbout
Written by Réjean Ducharme
Starring Charlotte Laurier
Marie Tifo
Germain Houde
Music by Bernard Buisson
Cinematography Michel Brault
Edited by André Corriveau
Distributed by Pan-Canadian Film Distributors
Release dates
  • 29 February 1979 (1979-02-29)
Running time
120 minutes
Country Canada
Language French
Budget CAD 600,000[1]

Good Riddance (French: Les Bons débarras) is a 1979 French-language Canadian drama film. Directed by Francis Mankiewicz and written by Réjean Ducharme, the film concerns Manon (Charlotte Laurier), an unstable young girl who lives with her mother Michelle (Marie Tifo) and her alcoholic uncle Ti-Guy (Germain Houde).


Manon is a precocious 13-year-old[2] girl living with her mother Michelle and intellectually challenged uncle Ti-Guy in Quebec. Manon wants to quit school and obtain the true love of her mother, who she accuses of not loving her. Michelle is pregnant with the child of Maurice, a police officer who tries to convince her to give up caring for Ti-Guy. Manon strongly dislikes Ti-Guy for his misbehavior and Maurice for being a cop, and when Michelle tells Manon of her pregnancy, Manon becomes upset.

On her birthday, Manon runs away for a time and phones her mother asking for her exclusive love, which Michelle takes as hurtful. After Manon comes back, she tells Michelle that Maurice molested her, at which point Michelle angrily chases Maurice away. Later, Manon drives Ti-Guy to commit suicide in a vehicle crash, after which she shields Michelle from the news.


The screenplay was written by novelist Réjean Ducharme from Quebec,[2] marking his first attempt at writing a film.[3] It was shot by Francis Mankiewicz at an inexpensive[4] cost of about $600,000[1] in a "Gothic" style creating "a sense of the menace of evil."[2] Mankiewicz had selected Michel Brault as his cinematographer, aiming for a textured look without high contrasts.[5] They also took inspiration from the paintings of Edward Hopper.[5]

In 1981, Mankiewicz said the character of Manon symbolizes a romantic outlook, whereas Michelle was more realistic. "Manon is the filmmaker and Michelle is the everyday person in me. I am a dreamer," he said.[4]


Good Riddance is widely considered one of the classic films in both Quebec and Canadian cinema.[6] It won the Genie Award for Best Canadian Film, along with seven other Genies, including for best original screenplay.[1] It has been designated and preserved as a "masterwork" by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation of Canada’s audio-visual heritage.[7] The Toronto International Film Festival ranked it in the Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time three times, in 1984, 1993 and 2004.[8]

There have been numerous interpretations of the film. Critic Ian Lockerbie suggested the film is an allegory for Quebec nationhood in the aftermath of the 1980 Quebec referendum, substituting nationalism for victimization. However, author Peter Morris replies English Canadian films were exploring similar themes at the time and that Les bons débarras was made before the referendum.[9] Author Chris Gittings observes interpretations of Les bons débarras as symbolism of Quebec as being a victim of English Canada, and writes that the film depicts class inequality in Quebec society, given the impoverished state of Michelle's family.[10] Author Janis L. Pallister argues the film fits in Québécois cinema as introspective, and that it is about desire and envy and is in part psychological horror and political symbolism.[11]

The film received less favourable reviews in the United States.[11] The New York Times called the film "a meandering movie with a curious kind of staying power."[12] The Chicago Reader wrote "Mankiewicz possesses a dark, provocative sensibility, yet he isn't sufficiently in control of his medium to produce a coherent work out of his conflicting moods."[13]

The film was entered into the 30th Berlin International Film Festival.[14] The film was selected as the Canadian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 53rd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[15]

Les bons débarras was seen by more people than any French Canadian film since Mon oncle Antoine (1971), but it was later eclipsed by Denys Arcand's The Decline of the American Empire (1986) and Jesus of Montreal (1989).[16]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Peter Morris, "Canadian gothic and Les bons débarras: The night side of the soul." Canada's Best Features: Critical Essays on 15 Canadian Films, ed. Eugene P. Walz, 2002, p.99.
  2. ^ a b c Peter Morris, "Les Bons Débarras/Good Riddance," The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2000 ed., Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1999, p. 1324.
  3. ^ "Les Bons Debarras," Montreal Film Journal, URL accessed 29 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b Liam Lacey, "A masterpiece? Maybe not, but it's a fine," The Globe and Mail, Nov. 30 2007.
  5. ^ a b Morris, "Canadian gothic and Les bons débarras," p. 101.
  6. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia: Les Bons débarras/Good Riddance
  7. ^ AV Trust | Preserving Canada's Visual and Audio Treasures | Les bons débarras
  8. ^ "Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time," The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2012, URL accessed 28 April 2013.
  9. ^ Morris, "Canadian gothic and Les bons débarras," p. 102.
  10. ^ Chris Gittings, Canadian National Cinema, Routledge, Oct 2, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Janis L. Pallister, The Cinema of Québec: Masters in Their Own House, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1995, p. 245.
  12. ^ Janet Maslin, "LES BONS DEBARRAS, ABOUT JEALOUSY," The New York Times, 15 January 1981, URL accessed 30 July 2013.
  13. ^ Dave Kehr, "Good Riddance," Chicago Reader, URL accessed 29 July 2013.
  14. ^ " Awards for Good Riddance". Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  15. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  16. ^ Pallister, p. 256.

External links[edit]