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Coming-of-age movie set in St. Boniface enjoys a 'rich sense of place'

A scene from FM Youth.

STÉPHANE OYSTRYK PHOTO

A scene from FM Youth.

For Anglo Winnipeggers, director Stéphane Oystryk’s first feature film presents a freewheeling tour through a milieu that is at once familiar and strange.

The “FM” in the title FM Youth refers to Franco-Manitoban. Three young people are getting the most out of single day in St. Boniface. Natasha (Katrine Deniset) and Charlotte (Mariève Laflèche) are on the eve of departing for Montreal, leaving behind their friend Alexis (Stéphane Simard) feeling wounded and alone.

Leaving your midsize hometown for a bigger, more vibrant city is a rite of passage for many a young person. But the dynamic is unique in St. Boniface where maintaining French culture is a full-time job — literally for Alexis, who toils at making posters encouraging Franco-Manitoban youth to speak French because it’s fun, and Natasha who we see on her last day on the job as a costumed interpreter at the Gabrielle Roy museum, haunting the place like a solitary ghost.

Natasha and Charlotte are intent of shaking off the dust of “St. Bobo” for what they believe will be a richer, more diverse culture in Montreal. But around the edges of their excitement, notes of sadness and hesitation reveal themselves.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/1/2015 (1005 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For Anglo Winnipeggers, director Stéphane Oystryk’s first feature film presents a freewheeling tour through a milieu that is at once familiar and strange.

The "FM" in the title FM Youth refers to Franco-Manitoban. Three young people are getting the most out of single day in St. Boniface. Natasha (Katrine Deniset) and Charlotte (Mariève Laflèche) are on the eve of departing for Montreal, leaving behind their friend Alexis (Stéphane Simard) feeling wounded and alone.

Leaving your midsize hometown for a bigger, more vibrant city is a rite of passage for many a young person. But the dynamic is unique in St. Boniface where maintaining French culture is a full-time job — literally for Alexis, who toils at making posters encouraging Franco-Manitoban youth to speak French because it’s fun, and Natasha who we see on her last day on the job as a costumed interpreter at the Gabrielle Roy museum, haunting the place like a solitary ghost.

Natasha and Charlotte are intent of shaking off the dust of "St. Bobo" for what they believe will be a richer, more diverse culture in Montreal. But around the edges of their excitement, notes of sadness and hesitation reveal themselves.

In their last 24 hours together, the three cycle all over St. B., hitting the more cinematic landmarks, including the St. Boniface Cathedral and the Belgian Club. Though they vow to avoid "drama," all three succumb at a house party, where Alexis tries to reconnect to his ex-girlfriend, Charlotte engages in a bathroom assignation with a lovelorn admirer (who also happens to be a distant cousin) and Natasha is obliged to discourage the girl who has been carrying a torch for her through their young adult lives.

Oystryk accomplishes much with a limited budget. Where this kind of coming-of-age tale usually features cars (American Grafitti, for example), this trio zip around St. B streets on bicycles, creating a driving sense of exuberance to the proceedings, coupled with a rich sense of place, a quality all too lacking in many a Winnipeg film.

The cast is largely amateur, but they, too, manage to impress, especially Simard in the difficult role of Alexis and Deniset, whose performance beguiles. What Mariève Laflèche may lack in thespian skills, she makes up for in sheer ballsiness. In supporting roles, Ben Marega is notably comfortable in front of the camera in the role of Alexis’s friend/romantic rival.

The most impressive talent is behind the camera, however. Oystryk proves to be a talent worth watching.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Randall King.

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History

Updated on Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 6:43 PM CST: Adds photo

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