“Following his remarkable trilogy of short films — The Bridge, The Dead Water and La battue — Guy Édoin makes his eagerly awaited feature debut with this haunting coming-of-age story about the conflict between personal longing and family obligation. Filmed on a dairy farm in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Wetlands is a swampy tale planted on dry soil and set against the backdrop of a long, hot summer.
The story follows seventeen-year-old Simon (Gabriel Maillé), son of Jean (Luc Picard) and Marie (Pascale Bussières), a hard-working couple who expect their son to lend a hand on the farm. But Simon can’t seem to do anything right: his half-hearted contributions fail to impress his father; worse, his younger brother drowned under his supervision two years earlier. Early in Wetlands, Simon bears additional responsibility for an accident that pushes the story into darker territory.
Working alongside his resentful mother, Simon resolves to help out in earnest, but the farm is nearly bankrupt. Simon’s world is thrown into further turmoil when he accepts an offer of help from a local bum (François Papineau), who ends up abusing Marie’s vulnerability. The fallout takes the form of an Oedipal nightmare.
Édoin’s aesthetic is a cross between naturalism and melodrama, reminiscent of Fassbinder. In a role designed for her, yet unlike any of the characters she’s played before, Bussières is perfect as a flawed mother who sacrificed her dreams for the sake of her husband. Papineau, an actor whose range expands every year (he was last seen at the Festival in the 2010 films Route 132 and Mourning for Anna), is mesmerizing in a role that requires a shift from saviour to predator in a heartbeat. As the patriarch, Picard delivers a textured performance that continues to resonate long after his character disappears — an effect not unlike that of this haunting and powerful film.”
The trailer can be viewed down below: