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Léolo
Canada - 1992
Directed by Jean-Claude Lauzon


A risk-taking film that tells the story of Léolo, a young boy growing up in Montreal.   The story is told in narrative form from Léolo's poetic journal entries.    Léolo's family members are mentally ill. As he struggles to understand this bizarre world, he begins to fabricate explanations for the strange events he is witness to in the form of some pretty strange fantasies of his own.  Eventually, he follows other family members who have been institutionalized after his attempt at murdering his grandfather.

Sometimes disturbing and, quite frankly, disgusting explicit scenes left us a little on edge, as did the disjointed but strangely correct musical score by Tom Waits.  We thought the poetry was too sophisticated for a young boy's talents, but if you're willing to buy it - the strangeness of the character is almost endearing.  Jean-Claude Lauzon is a director who does not seem intent upon crowd pleasing but on telling a complete story.  He won the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Director and an Audience Award from the Fantasporto Festival (1993) as well as a Genie Award for Best Original Screenplay (1992).

Runtime:  107 minutes


Guest Comments

From:  "S. Biberdorf"

"The most visually stunning and honest movie I have ever seen.  Both heart-wrenching and hilarious, it is one of the few movies that deserves to be called art. Be warned, however, it is not for the squeamish."


From:  "Richard Douglass-Chin"

""Leolo" is a film about life and art. In the transformation of that which is too horrible to bear, the young protagonist manages to create his art. Indeed, he creates his art in order to not be: ""I dream therefore I am not."" But alas, ""Because I am not, therefore I no longer dream."" The story addresses the age-old question which Alfred Lord Tennyson posed in his poem ""The Lady of Shallot,""-- in the creation of his art, does the artist reflect life? And in that reflection, does he himself become so engrossed in the dream that indeed, he forgets to truly live? Like the Lady of Shalott, forever weaving her web as she looks in the mirror of life, does Leolo dream, and forget to be? A large part of the musical score of the movie is based on Lorena McKennit's version of the Tennyson poem. Indeed, the movie is a highly literary one, filled with tropes of art, conquest (the figure of the Worm Tamer, a kind of St. George hero, collector of slain dragons, heroic dreams), Bianca-- a Beatrice, the muse who inspires the young Leolo. This piognantly hilarious and yet deeply horrifying movie is a must see for anyone who seeks to understand the strangeness, the pain and the beauty of what it means to be human."


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