Written by Dominic de Meester
Making its Quebec premiere at Montreal’s 46th Festival du nouveau cinema, La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes stood out as a powerful, must-see indy flick. Led by Marine Johnson’s sublime performance and adapted from Gaétan Soucy’s audacious novel – this artsy black and white movie will have you talking about its nuances after you’ve seen it. The movie was crafted beautifully by its acting, artistic direction and musical overtones and undertones.
Marine Johnson shines in this movie from beginning to end. She’s a young Jennifer Lawrence, showcasing her acting range in a very similar way to how Lawrence did in her first Oscar-nominated performance in the movie Winter’s Bone. Johnson plays a character trying to understand and discover life while battling the influences of her peculiar environment. Confused and without much to rely on, she strives to uncover the truth that lies hidden behind a vail – in what can only be described as a surreal, visceral, and raw storyline.
Visually, the costumes and artistic direction stand out. The film was shot brilliantly in black and white by director Simon Lavoie, and everything trickles off from that technique. Costume designer Francesca Chamberland transforms each character with precision. Her 19th-century costumes are meticulously crafted and on point.
As for the film’s primary setting – which is a beautiful stone rural home lost deep within a mountainous forest – viewers will notice the isolation the characters are faced with, and how it influences their psyche. As for inside the home, artistic director Majorie Rhéaume captivates the audience with an authentic early-19th century backdrop focusing on genuine props, enriched for viewers in black and white.
The mood of this film is bizarre, dark, and leaves you with a sense of uneasiness from beginning to end. It also provides you with many shocking moments you don’t quite expect. You’ll be transported to another era, yet not actually sure you’re wanting to go along for the ride.
In the end, curiosity will get the best of you, as there is an Alfred Hitchcock feel to this movie that can’t be ignored – the musical score is selected wisely, keeping you intrigued till the end credits.
La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes is screening at the Festival du nouveau cinema tonight, October 13th.