Guidelines (La Marche a suivre)

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Shot with very long takes and many scenes without any dialogue, there are many chances to study the activities of these teens with a quiet wonder.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Canadian Film Review.

Set in a small town in northern Quebec, this beautifully filmed slice of life follows the lives of high school students as they sometimes struggle with the disciplined environment of the classroom. Contrasted with their lives outside of school, we see a universal portrait of adolescence.

 

Through private meetings with authority figures who give them life advice and try to prevent them from causing conflicts, we meet many of these students. Some are troubled, some very confident, and all of them are struggling to figure out who they are. One girl tried to explain that she wasn’t teasing another girl, she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time as usual. They of course weren’t following that girl either, and the cause of the eventual fight was just an accident. She goes on to say that she imagines the other girl is living in hell and that she would never want to trade places with her. These scenes show the struggle to deflect blame and portray themselves as innocent that many of these students are going through, but they also show some very honest moments that are surprising.

Shot with very long takes and many scenes without any dialogue, there are many chances to study the activities of these teens with a quiet wonder. Their melancholic, sometimes nonchalant air seeps into the film itself and has a calming effect. Some of the scenes are so beautiful that you wish the shot was even longer so there was more time to take it all in. The shots of the surrounding farms, landscape, and silent remote wilderness were stunning, and even something like the bird’s eye view of the students leaving school was quite poignant.

When not at school, these teenagers engage in all sorts of reckless activities. From diving off the top of a railway bridge into the river to doing donuts in an ATV, they make the best of their quiet town and find their own ways to have fun. They seem content, brave, and free, while at school their demeanour seems quite different. Instead of slowing down for a mud puddle, they drive right through. Instead of hesitating, they climb to the top of the railway bridge and stand as if they own the world, before diving right in.

I found the pace of this film to be a bit slow at times, but I enjoyed the calm, drawn out scenes that really gave a sense of this place and its adolescents. There is very little plot, no narration, and sparse dialogue, but I found Guidelines to be a film that feels like a lazy summer day and says much more with imagery than words.

Director: Jean-François Caissy

Released: 2014

Run time: 78 mins

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn