Forbidding title aside, this film by Quebec's Robert Lepage has a positive
attitude -- though it opens with an example of the stark traditional Japanese
theater it's named after, in spirit it takes after the Feydeau farce that is
its centerpiece. In 1970 Montreal, Michel (Alexis Martin), a radical writer,
harbors three Quebec Liberation Front friends hiding from a police crackdown.
Meanwhile, at the Osaka World's Fair, Michel's girlfriend, Sophie (Anne-Marie
Cadieux), an actress in a theater troupe with the Quebec pavilion, discovers
she's pregnant and debates whether to return home. And so Nô goes,
bouncing from one country to another, with Japan in color and Canada, on the
verge of martial law, in black and white. Michel points out spelling errors in
his terrorist friends' manifesto and contributes a clock to their time bomb;
Sophie goes out to dinner with the boorish cultural attaché and his wife
and drinks too much sake; and Lepage explores issues of independence and
collectivism, theater and life. Sometimes the symbolism gets glib: a
Buñuelian stage moment, an automatic-photo booth that snaps pictures of
each of the main characters at key moments, and a coda set in 1980 in which the
word "no" takes on broader political implications all edge from quirky to coy.
But the sly, subdued performances (the lanky Cadieux is like a combination of
Vanessa Redgrave and Lucille Ball) make Nô worth saying yes to.
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