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Leolo (1993)

Cast: Maxime Collin, Maxime Collin, Ginette Reno, more...
Director: Jean-Claude Lauzon, Jean-Claude Lauzon
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Image Entertainment
Genre: Foreign, Black Comedy, Coming of Age , Dysfunctional Families, Canada
Running Time: 107 min.
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Synopsis
Jean-Claude Lauzon's highly praised film tells the strange story of Léolo, a young boy from Montréal. Told from Léolo's point-of-view, the film depicts his family of lunatics and Léolo's attempts to deal with them. Not one individual in the boy's life is well adjusted. His brother, after being beaten up, spends the film bulking up on growth protein. The grandfather hires half-naked girls to bite off his toenails and, in a brutal rage, almost kills Léolo. As he witnesses his family decay around him, Léolo retreats into himself and the fantasy world he has constructed. In response to the weirdness of his daily life, Léolo creates a little mental mayhem of his own which Lauzon renders in an amazing series of free-form, surreal images. Eventually, this precarious balance of reality and fantasy cracks and Léolo is hospitalized after attempting to murder his grandfather. The score by Tom Waits underscores the narrative arc of Léolo's breakdown. On its release, the film won numerous awards including the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Director (1992) and a Genie Award for Best Original Screenplay (1992). ~ Brian Whitener, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Staff Pick: The Canadian dark comedy Léolo seemed born for cult status from its very inception, and the tragic early death of Jean-Claude Lauzon, its brilliant director, only adds to its mystique. The film is a funny, disturbing, even bizarre coming of age story of sorts, and completely without parallel. It tells the story of young Leo - who considers himself Italian (and thus wishes to be called "Léolo"), and who is part of a truly dysfunctional family. Leo (played superbly by Maxime Collin) is so much more complex than the types of children we are usually confronted with in Hollywood coming of age stories that it's almost a shock to see someone who doesn't fit the mold. The film is also visually stunning in parts, and beautifully told. Be forwarned: as touching as it is, Leolo also plums some pretty dark depths. All the more reason to see it, and mourn the loss of what could have been an amazing film career for Lauzon. (He died in a plane crash in 1997; his other film was Night Zoo, which is not currently on DVD). -- Tamara Lees

GreenCine Staff Pick: The Canadian dark comedy Léolo seemed born for cult status from its very inception, and the tragic early death of Jean-Claude Lauzon, its brilliant director, only adds to its mystique. The film is a funny, disturbing, even bizarre coming of age story of sorts, and completely without parallel. It tells the story of young Leo - who considers himself Italian (and thus wishes to be called "Léolo"), and who is part of a truly dysfunctional family. Leo (played superbly by Maxime Collin) is so much more complex than the types of children we are usually confronted with in Hollywood coming of age stories that it's almost a shock to see someone who doesn't fit the mold. The film is also visually stunning in parts, and beautifully told. Be forwarned: as touching as it is, Leolo also plums some pretty dark depths. All the more reason to see it, and mourn the loss of what could have been an amazing film career for Lauzon. (He died in a plane crash in 1997; his other film was Night Zoo, which is not currently on DVD). -- Tamara Lees


GreenCine Member Reviews

Self-indulgently Grotesque by xscd June 26, 2007 - 11:14 AM PDT
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2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Be forwarned that there is a shocking scene late in the movie in which a live cat is abused "for the sake of"--art, the film, the story, whatever.

I patiently watched the movie up to the cat scene, appreciating some of the interesting approach to storytelling and some of the beautifully shot imagery. I kept hoping for some creative resolution or development in the story, but the movie seemed to slowly degenerate instead into a series of self-indulgent and unnecessarily destructive scenes and sub-plots. By the time the cat scene appeared I was already pretty fed up with the "I'm wallowing in the filth and I want you to wallow in it with me" approach the director seemed to take (with a beautiful, poetic gloss to lure the viewer into this bait-and-switch movie), so it was an easy decision to turn the DVD off at that point with no regrets other than to wish the director had not felt it necessary to abuse a live animal and film the animal's obvious panic and pain for the sake of the enjoyment? titillation? of a human audience.

Although I can't dispute the movie creator's talent, I was very disappointed with this go-nowhere, self-indulgently grotesque movie.

One Hot Tomato: Spinning Life Into Art by talltale November 27, 2005 - 5:13 AM PST
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6 out of 7 members found this review helpful
It's been 13 years since I first saw LEOLO, a movie that has remained in my mind as one of the "greats." So I thought the DVD release might be a good time for a re-visit. Wow: This film is so much darker than I recall--still amazing and brilliant, but SO very dark. The saving grace--a huge one--is that writer/director Jean-Claude Lauzon shows us, via his unique combination of visuals, words and music, how a life of sadness and madness can be transformed into art and beauty through the use of imagination and talent. (And a little humor: Will tomatoes ever again seem quite so innocent?) Truly, there is such life, art, beauty and filth here that you may be left just short of breathless.

The lead character bears the last name of Lauzon. Make of this what you will; for me, it means that the director is offering us his own imagined life, or perhaps that of a much-loved relation. Lauzon, who died with his girlfriend in a plane crash as he was about to begin work on his third film (his first was the interesting, over-the-top "Night Zoo"), might have become an artist of major proportion. In any case, "Leolo" will remain vital and important as long as movies--and problematic families--exist. I urge you to give it a try.




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(Average 6.56)
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