Ma Vie en cinemascope
Ma Vie en cinemascope (2004) is a film about Alice Robitaille (known professionally as Alys ROBI), who was a radio and cabaret star from Québec during the 1930s and 1940s. An unfortunate car accident in 1948 brought her career to a halt; as a result of it she suffered a mental breakdown and was interned for several years in a Québec City asylum, where she was subjected to a lobotomy against her will. In 1952 she was released and resumed her career, but her time had passed.
While this biopic by writer/director Denise FILIATRAULT obviously takes great pains throughout to illustrate Robi's (Pascale BUSSIÈRES) institutionalized madness, it becomes detrimental to the enjoyment of watching how a bright little girl from Québec City repeatedly managed to be in the right place at the right time for the Latin-inspired vocal stylings that made her a star at home, across Canada and abroad. In a perfect match between actor and character, Bussières incarnates Robi's obsessive drive, her joie de vivre and her sensuous charm. Bussières sings all the numbers herself, dances convincingly, and brilliantly pulls off a flamboyant nightclub stairway descent right out of a widescreen 1950s musical.
Unfortunately, we don't get enough of Robi's show-biz world. The nightclubs, radio studios and hotels lack the big-budget grandeur of movies such as Casino or New York, New York. Moreover, the picture's musical numbers get cut off just as they are building. The rapidly paced film relies too much on emblematic vignettes, rather than allowing scenes to develop. Ma Vie en cinemascope sometimes feels more like a PowerPoint presentation of Robi's life rather than a big-screen vision. Nonetheless, Bussières won the best actress GENIE AWARD, and the film won PRIX JUTRAS for best actress (Bussières), sound, art direction, costumes and makeup.