Recently I went and saw a Canadian movie. I think the last Canadian movie I actually saw at the theatres was about twenty years ago. It was a Quebec movie called “The Decline of the American Empire” which was a movie about failed relationships and not, as the title would imply, about the present US Administration.
Unlike most of the politically correct drivel put out by Canada’s indigenous film industry, the movie I saw this summer was actually entertaining. The movie was called Bon Cop Bad Cop and was in the classic Hollywood style of a mismatched buddy cop movie, which is part comedy and part drama. In this particular case the mismatched pair is a screw the rules Quebecois cop, David Boucher, (played by Patrick Huard) and an anally retentive by the book Ontario cop Martin Ward (played by Colm Feore).
What made this movie entertaining is it actually dared to portray some of the warts of Canadian society. Sure it played them for laughs Quebecois were referred to as “frogs” and les Anglais as “squareheads.” One of the most memorable lines of the movie was when Quebec cop Boucher says to a coroner en francais that “I know this guy (referring to Ontario cop Ward) looks like a gay accountant, but I can assure you, he’s no accountant.”
Ward, who can speak perfect Parisian French grimaces at this shot. I remember once attending an awards show in Montreal. The guest of honour was none other than world famous singer Peter Gabriel, who has a working class British accent. But when he started speaking flawless Parisian French you could visibly see the largely Quebecois audience squirm in much the same way most English Canadians or Americans do when someone starts talking like the Queen of England.
It was this same reaction that was amongst the many dichotomies between Quebec and Ontario that was played for laughs in the movie. As I left the movie theatre I thought that Canadian movies would do better if Canadian filmmakers could actually have the courage to present our society warts and all. Or even play up some of those warts for dramatic and/or comedic effect.
Certainly the hit television series Trailer Park Boys is an example of how Canadian Society’s attitude towards dope smoking is radically different than that of the United States. There is even a Trailer Park Boys movie coming out which I certainly intend to go see.
On the dramatic side there is in fact quite a bit of material to work with; especially once you peel away the faux “nice Canadian” veneer you start to see the bared teeth behind the passive aggressive grins on all too many Canadian faces.
The race war between white and black America is well known to Canadians. The best way to get a black person in the United States to stop glaring at you (if you happen to be white) is to let them know you are Canadian.
Less well known is the fact that black people in Ontario are 10 times more likely to become victims of a police shooting than whites. Aboriginals, similarly, are four times more likely in Ontario to be shot by a police officer than whites. These figures are based on data provided by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which probes incidents involving police and civilians resulting in serious injury or death.
Again the last thing we need is another earnest politically correct piece of tripe from the National Film Board but it would be nice to see some Canadian films, be they comedies or dramas that dealt with the way Canada actually is, warts and all, rather than the nice façade we all too often try and kid ourselves into believing is the real Canada.