“Oh, Canada”: far from fantasy, Richard Gere as an artist on the verge of death: News

“Oh, Canada”: far from fantasy, Richard Gere as an artist on the verge of death: News
“Oh, Canada”: far from fantasy, Richard Gere as an artist on the verge of death: News

Richard Gere as we’ve never seen him before: the American actor plays a sick man at the end of his life in “Oh, Canada”, a twilight film by Paul Schrader in competition at Cannes.

The voice-over at the beginning leaves no room for doubt: we are witnessing the last moments of a man.

Moving in a wheelchair, carrying a urinary bag, his eyes half-closed by illness and pain, Richard Gere here sweeps away the fantasy of the 80s, dressed as Armani from “American gigolo” (filmed by the same Schrader), as well as the sexy businessman from “Pretty Woman”.

“It was a little scary to see myself getting older, to see myself as I will be in a few years. It’s a very strange thing,” he said Saturday at the film’s press conference.

“My father passed away a few months before Paul (Schrader) presented the project to me. He was clearly living his last days, and the way his mind was dealing with many different realities, that’s what really touched me in this scenario,” explained the 74-year-old actor.

More than 40 years after their first collaboration, the filmmaker haunted by redemption and the actor came together for this film in the form of a review, adapted from a novel by Russell Banks, who died last year.

“Oh, Canada”, the title of a song by Neil Young, is the story of a famous documentary filmmaker, Leonard Fife, who made his reputation by exposing scandals and through his political commitment.

Installed in Canada with his wife and former student played by Uma Thurman, he decides, knowing he is condemned, to lift the veil on the past cowardice and the wounds he has inflicted.

Filmed in close-up by a team who want to know everything about their mentor, Leonard opens up, gets lost, perhaps invents… He thinks he remembers what he was like when he was young (played on screen by Jacob Elordi, seen in “Priscilla”). In this memory puzzle, the past and the present collide, the Leonard of the present remakes the film of his life, remembers the women he has been with.

The opportunity to revisit his decisive decision to leave for Canada to avoid conscription during the Vietnam War. “It’s always a difficult question, do we go to war? do we take a weapon? It’s always a question, whether the war is just or unjust,” said Richard Gere .

Haunted by the sins of the past and the question of redemption, Paul Schrader makes his film a final confession. He had already brought to the screen a first novel by Russell Banks, “Affliction” (1997).

A critical success in a checkered career.

Screenwriter of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull”, he remained in the shadow of Martin Scorsese for a long time, before later acquiring the aura of a big name in cinema.

He confided that he was working on an upcoming film at the age of 77, a thriller and sexual obsession.

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