Rafales (André Melançon, 1990)
On Christmas eve a journalist (Denis Bouchard) witnesses a theft in a mall and later tracks one of the thieves (Marcel Leboeuf) and ends up being taken as his hostage at the radio station he works for.
Populated with the constant sound of the wind blowing during a snow storm on December 24th in Montréal, Rafales french for gusts is at first a powerful thriller that easily transcends borders of the french speaking Province of Québec.
With Marcel Leboeuf as Gérard Crépeau a garage employee involved in a theft that was orchestrated by his brother Normand (Guy Thauvette) and Pouliot (Claude Blanchard) the boss of the garage might feel like a standard robbery gone bad until Gérard shoots the mall’s Santa Claus and flies away with the money and meet Louis-Philippe Trépanier (Denis Bouchard). Normand is arrested and Pouliot does an act of treason.
Prior to the robbery, Trépanier sees Gérard and Normand argue about the crime they are about to commit, he is in a toy store and picks up toys for his kids. He sees Gérard’s gun and starts to follow him. There’s a strange fascination in the way that Trépanier watches Gérard, who is the most fragile character in the movie. Trépanier is an opportunist and sees a scoop in the tracking of the thief. While he has the chance to alert policemen he doesn’t do so at the first place.
In fact, with the conclusion of the film we understand that he was using Gérard for his own purpose and his career. In a way, it was Gérard who was the hostage in the radio station broadcasting live the negociation with the police. Rémy Girard, aka the Québec actor that is cast in every Québec film ever made, is the manager of the station and saw the potential in Trépanier’s actions taking advantage even in accepting to pass commercials during the aforementioned live broadcast.
One of the most human moments is when Gérard lifts an aging Russian woman (Kim Yaroshevskaya) and talks about her past and then moments of his childhood. It is one of those moments that can be a home run or a total pathetic pathos moment. In this case it is perfect and its purpose is also well used.
Dedicated to the late John Cassavetes who had just passed out months before the opening of Rafales, director André Melançon made a strong film with a mise en scène that demonstrates his great mastery at storytelling keeping lots of silences especially with nearly 20 minutes in the opening and almost no dialogues outside of the radio station.
Having watched more than 2000 films in my life and written about at least 500 of them it is now less often that I feel left being impressed or ecstatic. With Rafales, it is the case where I think I sat in front of something that was quite unique. This is a very good film and one of my favorite films from my part of the world; the Province of Québec.