Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)

Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)

“I’m not happy. I’m not made for the country. I hate it here.”

An orphaned teenager (Jacques Gagnon) living in the countryside with his aunt (Olivette Thibault) and uncle (Jean Duceppe) helps them run their general goods store and undertaker business — but when tragedy strikes a local family, Gagnon learns some harsh truths about his adoptive parents.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Canadian Films
  • Christmas
  • Coming-of-Age
  • Death and Dying
  • Orphans

Named as one of the best — if not the best — Canadian film for many years, this coming-of-age drama by renowed Quebecois director Claude Jutra (d. 1986) has since been marked by scandal given revelations about Jutra’s alleged abuse of minors for years. (Awards named after Jutra were quickly stripped of that title, as were local streets and parks in Quebec.) With that said, on its own merits, Mon Oncle Antoine remains a well-made, heartfelt film with a strong sense of time, location, and fully human characters.

The storyline is episodic in nature, but all takes place within one Christmas holiday, thus adding to the sense of communal festivity:

We learn quite a bit about the town from action taking place at or near the general store, where folks gather not only to purchase items but to gawk at others (as when Gagnon sneaks a peak at the town beauty trying on a girdle):

… to celebration (as when a young woman comes in asking for a bridal veil and drinks are served all around).

Eventually, however, more challenging events and dilemmas emerge, forcing Gagnon to accept that the world he’s growing into is flawed and confusing; at one point, he literally takes the reins from the ineffectual adults around him:

Fans of coming-of-age films will certainly want to check this film out, and it’s of general interest to film fanatics given its status within Canadian (specifically Quebecois) film history.

Note: Jutra himself co-stars as an assistant at the store who appreciates Thibault’s middle-aged charms:

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Michel Brault’s cinematography

Must See?
Yes, once, for its historical relevance.


  • Historically Relevant


One thought on “Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)

  1. (Rewatch, 1/7/21) Not must-see.

    ~ but, overall, it’s not a bad film. It appears to be held in high regard as being among the best Canadian films ever.

    Diretor / co-writer Jutra is successful in capturing the mood and atmosphere of a very specific time and place; an area that’s somewhat-depressed economically but where the inhabitants somehow manage to just get by one way or the other. The narrative is presentational and, aside from the protagonist Benoit, the ‘main character’ appears to be the community itself.

    Benoit’s worldview is one dominated by sex and death. He’s around 15, awakening fully to the reality that surrounds him. He sees an atmosphere of arrested development – and it’s understandably shocking to him when he’s confronted with the death of someone his own age. It’s almost as if he suddenly grows up and – due to contributing circumstances as well – no longer sees the world as he formerly did. He’s no longer naive. What happens to his uncle more or less causes Benoit to put all of the pieces of his young life together.

    The dual storyline overlaps reasonably well but the conclusion – though effective-enough – is still lacking in logic and not completely satisfying.

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