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C'etait le 12 du 12 et Chili avait les blues

Also known as Chili's Blues
French (1994)

(There are no English subtitles available for this movie, as far as I know. There is French close-captioning, though, which enabled me to follow it fairly well.)

So we have a bunch of people stranded in a train station during a blizzard. A young vacuum-cleaner salesman (Roy Dupuis) and a suicidal teenager (Lucie Laurier) spend pretty much the entire movie talking about the meaning, or lack of meaning, of life. In other words, Existentialism 101.

The story takes place in 1963, right after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The teenage Chili ("like the sauce") is filled with despair, and the salesman, Pierre-Paul, tries to sell her on life. He fetches her aspirin. He pours water into her mouth from a cradle he makes from his hands. He plays games with her. He makes love to her. At twelve after twelve, the trains start running again; he goes on his way, and she puts the gun in her bag. Stating the obvious – he still wants to live, and she does not.

There is symbolism all over the place, as you might expect in this type of movie. My favorite incredibly obvious piece of symbolism (it actually made me laugh out loud) was when Chili and Pierre-Paul were making out on the floor of a storeroom. A train station employee came in and pulled something off the shelves, accidentally knocking over a jar of maraschino cherries. The cherries exploded onto the floor. I mean, come on.

I always comment on the Roy content in my reviews, and I am happy to report that he and Lucie Laurier were the focus of the movie. He wore a conventional sixties suit and his hair was very short and un-Roy-like. At different points during the movie, Chili and Pierre-Paul talked about Maurice Richard, the Dionne quintuplets, and Marlon Brando. Later in his career, Roy Dupuis did movies with or about all of them. What are the odds?

The acting is quite good, the dialogue is clever, and some of the imagery is very interesting. I was never once bored. All in all, it was much better than Free Money. But then again, anything is better than Free Money.

Two and a half stars,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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