LA DISPARITION DES LUCIOLES (THE FIREFLIES ARE GONE) (Canada 2018) ***
Directed by Sébastien Pilote
Warning: This review contains a spoiler in its plot point. The spoiler occurs int h second last paragraph of the review.
At the start of the film, a radio show host Paul (Francois Papineau) announces on the radio that due to some unknown mysterious reason that have puzzled scientists and everyone else, all the fireflies are disappeared. The fireflies are obviously a metaphor for something in the film which will be revealed in the second last paragraph of the review in italics. Spoiler Alert: Skip reading the second last paragraph italics but the spoiler is included as it is crucial in the film’s critique.
The film’s best segment occurs at the start at a dinner arranged when Leo shows up late, The uncomfortable dialogue that goes on around is brilliant - funny, informative and sarcastic. Leo (Karelle Tremblay) is clearly out to disrespect her mother (Marie-France Marcotte) while showing her disdain towards her step-father, Paul. It is Leo’s birthday but she leaves the dinner after excusing herself to the toilet. Later on, the mother gives her her birthday present telling Leo never to do what she did ever again, which she promises. The scene is multi-purposeful. Besides introducing the audience to all the primary characters, it also reveals the relation ship Leo, clearly the protagonist has with each of the present at the table. he dialogue is also sardonic if not witty, funny if not revealing. Unfortunately no other segment in the film comes matches this. But the confrontation scene between Leo and stepfather, Paul comes close.
The only character missing from the tables a local guitarist, Steve (Pierre-Luc Brillant) who is much older than her. She takes guitar lessons from him and becomes a little infatuated with him. When her real father, (Luc Picard) shows up, she finds him not the hero she expected him to be.
It is the performance of the actors that save this otherwise predictable tale of Leo, s girl stuck in her small town. Newcomer Karelle Tremblay affects the audience’s sympathy without being the annoying teenager while older Quebec actors lend their support.
It does not take a genius to guess that the fireflies are a metaphor for Leo’s hope - or hope in general. As Leo finally gains enough courage to hop on a bus to leave the small town and start life anew, the fireflies suddenly re-appear around the town in the dark (as is unfortunately totally predictable, especially for one who have seen too many films) signifying the return of hope or that hope is no longer lost.
For all that the film is, the film still succeeds as a well executed and thought-of portrait of a teen stuck in a small town. At least Leo survives. In a similar film, Robert Mandel’s 1983 INDEPENDENCE DAY (not the Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick of the same title), Diane Weist’s character escaped her personal prison by lighting up a cigarette while filling up the house with gas in the film’s last scene.