Uplifting study of grief

Sebastien Ricard and Fanny Mallette play the grieving couple whose eight-year-old son is missing in Chorus.
Sebastien Ricard and Fanny Mallette play the grieving couple whose eight-year-old son is missing in Chorus.PHOTO: ANOUK LESSARD

French-Canadian director Francois Delisle's film Chorus, about a missing child, is an unsentimental study of loss

Director Francois Delisle became an accidental therapist in the making of his critically acclaimed film Chorus.

Apparently, audiences were so moved watching his movie that they felt like they had just sat through a therapeutic healing session, the French-Canadian film- maker tells Life with a chuckle.

"It's really strange because I'm no therapist, but people who were going through something really hard in their lives told me that watching my movie was like a healing process for them," Delisle, 48, says over the telephone from his home in Montreal, Canada.

"They saw how my movie depicted others living with really hard emotions and I think they felt like they could relate."

Chorus, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January and airs in Singapore tonight, follows a grieving, estranged couple when the case of their missing eight- year-old son is reopened a decade on. New information on the case is revealed in the process and the pain of dealing with it becomes almost too difficult to bear for the couple, who are played by actress Fanny Mallette and actor Sebastien Ricard.

The film, Delisle's sixth feature- length work, was well reviewed and went on to screen at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Taipei Film Festival, among other events.

Popular entertainment news site Indiewire described the film as "profoundly, unsentimentally sad, and with a bewitching beauty to supply ample doses of hope", while Cinevue called it "a festering beauty of a film (that) slowly reveals itself in this bleak but uplifting black- and-white study of grief".

Delisle, who also wrote the script, says that the story is "not even loosely based on true events", but that the inspiration for it came from a desire to explore the notion of loss.

"I realised that the experience of loss can lead to a kind of fetishism: You save someone's phone messages and cling on to their voice, for example, and you refuse to let go of that little fragment," he says.

He admits that he follows his own gut rather than any form of in-depth research during the screenwriting process.

"I do some research but it's really my feelings that I put on paper. It's not like I'm a documentary film-maker.

"So I just try to be really honest on an intellectual level, and I think as an artist, you have to go really deep. For this film, I really went as deep as I could go within myself, and I put it all out there. I think that's why audiences could relate to the film and that's why even other directors told me that for the first time, they felt like the feelings here were very accurately portrayed."

Chorus premieres on Sundance Channel (Singtel TV Channel 401) tonight at 10pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'Uplifting study of grief'. Print Edition | Subscribe