Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Story of Jen / L'histoire de Jen (DVD Review)

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Image: Courtesy of eOne Films

Writer/Dir: François Rotger (The Passenger (2005))
Cast: Laurence Leboeuf, Marina Hand, Daniel Pilon, Tony Ward, Annie Murphy
Canada/France, 2009

Reason to see: Felt very coming-0f-age-y, which is a genre I love plus I've been very curious to see more of Laurence Leboeuf's work as she is so powerful in Durham County.

Story of Jen / L'histoire de Jen stars Laurence Leboeuf in the title role of Jen, a teenager who we are introduced to at quite a trying time in her life. Jen lives with her mother Sarah (Marina Hand) and there is a quiet sense of unrest in their home and a huge emotional weight that is ever present in the home and that Jen carries with her as well.

Jen is shown as a bit of an outsider, but quite a different portray of an outsider. She's no more or less awkward than anyone else, she's very aware of how and why can fit in and be approached, yet she never goes that but rather thinks about these things. There is a beautiful, haunting realness to the character of Jen as someone who could be easily overlooked and underappreciated. Laurence Leboeuf (Durham County) does a beautiful job of bringing Jen to life with an understated yet very deep performance.

Further tension and unrest comes into the family home when Ian (Tony Ward), who is referred to as her fathers half-brother, enters under the explanation of helping them out Jen and her mother. We begin to see Jen's inexperience, curiosity and longing start to take centre stage as her thoughts continue to focus on Ian.

The film has lots of interesting elements to it that really drew me in. I loved how it was in both French and English, with Jen living in a French-speaking home but goes to an English speaking school. I loved how it took on the complicated and confusing experience that coming of age can be.

Overall I really enjoyed the film and found it to be a suprizingly dark, but realistic take on coming of age. I wondered if the brief moments that that skirt the lines of magical realism might have pull people out of understanding or relating to the film, especially giving it's quietly socially religious setting. Personally I found these elements fascination and a spectacular addition to the film. I also thought it was beautiful how undefined a lot of the film is, how it's open to interpretation and can certainly be gray in some areas. Although that's quite a daring choice when you are telling a story through film, I think it's a brave choice and really speaks to how complicated coming of age can be, and certainly is with our protagonist Jen.

DVD Extras:
  • No DVD extras
Story of Jen / L'histoire de Jen is available on DVD February 22, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of coming of age stories with a darker touch

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

1 comment:

Jay Clarke said...

I too am a big fan of Leboeuf after seeeing her in DC. I may check this out. Thanks for the recommend!

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