Mon Oncle Antoine (My Uncle Antoine)

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Average Rating: 3.7/5

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French Canadian director and actor Claude Jutra enjoyed his greatest critical success with this evocative and loving (but unsentimental) look at a few memorable days in the life of a boy on the verge of manhood in a small Quebec mining community in the 1940's. Benoit (Jacques Gagnon) is an orphan just edging into his teens. He works part-time for Antoine (Jean Duceppe), his uncle who owns the local general store and moonlights as an undertaker; Antoine takes the boy under his wing for a few days while the shop is busy during the holiday rush. Benoit helps set up the store's annual Christmas window display, spies on the most beautiful woman in town (Monique Mercure) as she tries on some specially ordered lingerie, finds his feelings for teenage co-worker Carmen (Lyne Champagne) changing from indifference to attraction, and joins his friends for a snowball raid on the owner of the town's mining operation as he contemptuously distributes gifts to the poor. But when Benoit joins his uncle to collect the body of a boy who has recently died, he confronts mortality for the first time and comes to realize what sort of a man his uncle really is. Mon Oncle Antoine won eight Genie Awards (the Canadian Oscar) and was honored at seven international film festivals, but it wasn't until the film was broadcast on Canadian television that it was widely seen in its home country; since then, a poll of Canadian film writers named it the Best Canadian Film of all time in 1984, and similar polls in 1994 and 2004 found Mon Oncle Antoine still at the top of the list.


Jean Duceppe
as Antoine
Claude Jutra
as Fernand Clerk, Fernand, Clerk
Hélène Loiselle
as Mme. Poulin
Lionel Villenueve
as Joseph Poulin
Mario Dubuc
as Poulin Child
Lise Burnelle
as Poulin Child
Alain Legendre
as Poulin Child
Serge Evers
as Poulin Child
Robin Marcoux
as Poulin Child
Monique Mercure
as Alexandrine
Georges Alexander
as the Big Boss
Benoit Marcoux
as Carmen's Father
Lise Talbot
as the Engaged Couple
Michel Talbot
as The Engaged Couple
Sydney Harris
as the Helper
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Critic Reviews for Mon Oncle Antoine (My Uncle Antoine)

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (1)

Audience Reviews for Mon Oncle Antoine (My Uncle Antoine)

I believe this is the only Jutra that I have seen and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is amazing what drama can be brought forward from the residents of an otherwise simple industrial town.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

I have such a soft spot for films like these: meandering, atmospheric, almost light, but with very definite and powerful currents beneath it. Mon Oncle Antoine is set in a cold, rural town in Quebec around Christmas (c. 1950 perhaps), and it tells a small story that could be called that terrible cliché: "coming-of-age".

So many different things are considered 'coming of age' that it's hard to state what that phrase means exactly. In the case of this film, it refers to a succession of seemingly unconnected, natural events that amount to an undeniable turning point: as if, in an instant, someone removed a carpet from under our feet and we were forced to jump into a realization, something we had never been aware of before. This all sounds very vague but comes across very clearly in Mon Oncle Antoine...

Benoit, a young boy, lives with his aunt and uncle. He helps them run the town's Magasin General and undertaking services. When the film begins, snow is falling and the town is getting ready fro Christmas; Benoit's Aunt meticulously prepares the shop's window displays, and he helps arrange the decoration and paper wrappings. A day before, he had helped his Uncle arrange the funeral of an old miner. So goes his life, a perfectly liveable and perfectly unexciting doing and undoing of little tasks. However, a combination of subtle experiences, including one with another young shopkeeper, and the mission to collect the body of a 15 year old boy several miles of snow away, bring him to a confrontation with the faces of life that had been hidden all along before. It's the old "loss of innocence" theme, regarding sex in one hand and death in the other, but told so wonderfully it only really sinks after credits roll.

This film is more mood than performance-driven; in fact the actors are so natural they almost go unnoticed, given the lack of eccentricity or any particular spectacularity in the characters themselves. If there is one remarkable thing it is Benoit's facial expression as his own awareness of passion and horror begin to expand. What I found most charming of all was the cinematography and creative use of camera movements, all supported by an awe-inspiring backdrop of both menacing and tranquil snow. The indoors scenes are filled with warmth and a feeling of community and familiarity so, somehow, the film is successfully alienating and inviting all at once.

Mon Oncle Antoine is certainly one of the most delicate and heartbreaking films about change and... yes, "coming of age" I've seen. I think at all ages people have to come to terms with something new, perhaps disagreeable and unexpected. That's why I don't think this kind of film ever loses its relevance. Watch it on a cold night with a glass of liquor and you'll be all right.

Elvira B
Elvira B

Super Reviewer

This movie is from both the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival and it Spine No. 438 in the Criterion Collection. Its about life in a Small Quebec Village around Christmas time, pretty much features a 12 year old boy living with his Uncle, a cute story, I'll give it 4 Stars

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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