J’ai mon voyage! (Denis Héroux, 1973)
Jean-Louis Cartier (Jean Lefebvre) from France decides to quit Quebec City to go live in Vancouver with a fifth wheel. The Cartier family of Danielle (Dominique Michel), François (René Simard) , and Luc (Régis Simard) embark on a road trip that will take them into the wilderness of the West Canada that Jean-Louis romances in his letters to his parents in France.
This comedy that mixes stereotypes from the view that French people have on Canada and the Province of Québec is only even more contemptable for its view on English Canadians and how it fed the stereotypes that opposed French and English Canadians.
For a long time the people living in the Province of Québec were called French Canadians but in the 1970’s a nationalist movement lead by René Lévesque brought the term Québécois to identify the french speakers of Québec. This road movie/comedy was quite popular when it came out because it spoke to the people of Québec that were getting out of their yes man phase but still too self centered to actually learn english and deal with the rest of the country. It also carries lots of stereotypes in its comedic situations that are very of their time. Much like Bon Cop, Bad Cop, another film playing on the differences between Canadians and Québécois that tries so hard to be a comedy but still isn’t funny.
With J’ai mon voyage!, we are into comedy and it is a series of situations that reminds of comic books and typical French humor. It also displays a strange nuclear family that is always screaming at each other. The couple of Jean-Louis and Danielle is not believable in the way that we can’t understand how those two ever met and fell in love.
On the other hand, it carries lots of social preoccupations of the people of the time and how Québécois perceived French and English Canadians. It is an attempt at slapstick with overplaying and impossible situations. Still, a few laughs are here and there but more because we laugh of the film and not because of its comedic values.
As a whole it is far from being the best that Québécois films can offer, especially Denis Héroux who started as a director of erotic movies to direct more popular entertainment like J’ai mon voyage! or Quelques arpents de neige. He is mostly recognized for producing such films like Louis Malle’s Atlantic City, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Quest for Fire, and Claude Chabrol’s Violette Nozière and The Blood of Others. An important figure in Québécois cinema even if this film is not an example of quality. Let’s say a very stereotypical line for a film review to conclude : J’ai mon voyage! did not pass the test of time.