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“THE DEMONS”— Through the Eyes of a Child
Through the Eyes of a Child
While Montreal is in the midst of a string of kidnappings targeting young boys, ten-year-old Felix (Edouard Tremblay-Grenier) is finishing his school year in a quiet suburb where he lives. He is sensitive, has a vivid imagination and is afraid of everything. Little by little, his imaginary demons start to reflect those of the truly disturbing world around him.
Philippe Lesage’s film looks at adult cruelty in suburban Montreal and focuses on the doubts, fears, and horrors of life that exist beneath the comfortable surface of a suburb as seem through the eyes of a sensitive 10-year- old in this compelling film with its atmosphere of permanent unease. The film asks major questions about what kind of world our paranoid, neurotic society is making for its sons and daughters.
Felix seems to be out of place everywhere. His world is a fundamentally scary place. He is afraid that his parents Claire (Pascale Bussieres) and Marc (Laurent Lucas) will break up. He sees Marc and the mother of his friend Mathieu (Yannick Gobeil-Dugas), bonding over Robert Johnson blues songs, and then he witnesses, early on, a terrifying fight between Claire and Marc. He’s also scared, of the nasty rumors about the terrible things his brother Francois (Vassili Schneider) and his friends say about the bad things happening to the neighborhood kids. He has a crush on his physical instruction teacher, Rebecca (Victoria Diamond).
Felix is loved by both brother and sister Emmanuelle (Sarah Mottet), with whom he tearfully shares the news, from inside his wardrobe, that he thinks he has AIDS.
Having seen the behavior of grown-ups, Felix is capable of cruelty himself. We see this when he locks Alexandre (Alfred Poirier) into a swimming pool locker. The swimming pool is the focus of so much of the film’s joy, of danger, of eroticism and more. The film begins with swimming instructor Ben (Pier-Luc Funk) finding a pair of boys’ shorts and furtively pocketing them. In the film’s second half the focus is on Felix and darkness.
Many of the lengthy shots of children at play, often at pool, can be interpreted as images of “unselfconscious happiness”, of happiness under threat, and of a future in which all of this happiness is distorted and demonized into another generation of parents who send this down to their own children.
“The Demons” is daring and a beautiful study of agitated child psychology that while not always easy to watch has a great deal to say.