Contre toute espérance
With Contre toute espérance (translated as Summit Circle) Bernard ÉMOND presents the second film in his trilogy about the three theological virtues: faith (La neuvaine), and now hope. We again meet up with Guylaine TREMBLAY (the lead in 20h17 rue Darling), and Bernard Émond once more carries us along through a tragic decline - though this time not of a person, but of a couple.
The film begins with the character of Réjeanne, a woman covered in blood in front of a posh mansion. She has just fired several gunshots at the façade and seems to be suffering from a traumatic psychological shock that translates into unwavering and total silence. Later, the police will discover the body of her husband in the couple's apartment. The movie transports us into Réjeanne's past - the happy days when she and her husband lived in their small dream house. Then suddenly, everything changes dramatically.
Réjeanne, a telephone operator for a large company, is very suddenly subject to a mass layoff. She later learns that the president has bowed out, pocketing more than thirteen million dollars. The couple clearly hope to overcome this economic crisis, but the husband falls victim to a stroke. He suffers from aphasia and is dependent on Réjeanne's care, and they are obliged to sell their house and leave for Montréal, settling in a disadvantaged neighbourhood. They get by through a variety of small, underpaid jobs, and Réjeanne manages to survive until one fateful day when everything changes.
With two crises at the same time, the situation of this formerly happy couple makes us see the disastrous consequences of both a failed economic system and an incurable disease. Jeanne, however, is a fighter who refuses to throw in the towel until things are beyond repair, all the while understanding that even God can offer her no way out.
Guylaine Tremblay plays the role of Réjeanne with accuracy and determination. She is deeply moving and well supported by the first-rate performance of Guy Jodoin, who completely retreats into himself. The energy and joy that Réjeanne exudes at the beginning of the film contrast perfectly with the character she has become at the end. Contre toute espérance is a sombre film that is more direct and has more impact than La neuvaine. It clearly exposes what it maintains: the injustice of life.
Guylaine Tremblay won the JUTRA for best actress (2008) for her role in Contre toute espérance.