Thank you for “my” sisters-in-law! | Le Journal de Montréal

Thank you for “my” sisters-in-law! | Le Journal de Montréal
Thank you for “my” sisters-in-law! | Le Journal de Montréal

When Michel Tremblay arrived on the red carpet of the film Our Sisters-in-law Monday evening at Place des Arts, the crowd applauded him spontaneously. Long. Warmly.

You can’t imagine how much this moment touched me: as if the audience were thanking Tremblay for giving, 56 years ago, a voice to the women of Quebec. For finding “the words to say it” to describe their alienation. As if we were thanking him for creating this play that really helped to “de-naiveize” Quebec.

THE REAL WORLD?

At Monday’s premiere, writer and director René Richard Cyr told us, seconds before the film began, “I hope that ‘our’ sisters-in-law” will become ‘your’ sisters-in-law.” And that’s exactly what happened. Geneviève Schmidt’s interiority (in the final scene), Véronic DiCaire’s depth (in her song Johnny), the thousand and one nuances of Jeanne Bellefeuille’s acting (who is only 19 years old!), the stifled pain of Anne-Élisabeth Bossé, the cheekiness of Pierrette Robitaille, the solo of Debbie-Lynch White, I was overwhelmed by all their performances.

But what touched me most was seeing that a whole generation of young Quebec women will be able, through this film, to measure the immense path taken by Quebec women.

All the neo-feminists who complain about microaggression because a guy looked at them the wrong way or who curl up in a ball because a man interrupted them in a meeting should go see the film.

They will realize how far we have come. Michel Tremblay’s sisters-in-law were alienated, oppressed women, relegated to the domestic sphere, their kitchen, their courtyard, their gallery. Tremblay makes them repeat like a mantra that they are “pus capable” of this “damned flat life”.

Chained to their washing machines (“dresses, skirts, stockings, sweaters, pants, underpants, bras, everything goes in there”), prisoners of meal preparation (“always the same damned business”), three times a day, every day. Or forced, like Rose Ouimet, to sleep with their husband morning and night, every day of the year, every year (“damned ass!”). Humiliated by having to beg their husband for a few minutes of freedom to go play bingo “once a month.”

It is nevertheless ironic that it was a man (Michel Tremblay) in 1968 who was so successful in holding up a mirror to women and that it is a man (René Richard Cyr) in 2024 who is holding up the mirror of their evolution to them.

MY STAMPS! MY STAMPS!

In 1968, after attending the premiere of Sisters-in-law, the theater critic of The Press Martial Dassylva had written a killer text. He was shocked to see joual burst onto the stage.

“Given the crudeness and vulgarity of his text, I cannot help but think that the management of the Rideau Vert may have done the author a disservice by agreeing to produce his play.”

Fifty-six years later, in front of a packed house that applauded the film made from his work, Michel Tremblay perhaps had his sweetest revenge: his sisters-in-law are now immortal.

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