By: Shahbaz Khayambashi
After the saccharine dramatics of Monsieur Lazhar and The Good Lie, Philippe Falardeau has finally returned to his comedic roots – the place where his talent truly shines – with his hilarious new film, My Internship in Canada.
In this satirical take on Canadian politics, a Member of Parliament named Steve Guibord (Patrick Huard), holding power over three small Quebecois towns, finds himself as the single deciding vote on whether or not Canada goes to war. Unable to make a decision that would be politically sound, he goes on a tour of his constituency to see what the people want. Going along with him is a Haitian intern named Souverain (Irdens Exantus) who has come to Canada because he is passionate about Canadian politics.
This silly premise leads the way to many political jabs which leave no one unscathed; whether on the left, the right or the centre, whether Natives, workers, protesters or even the Prime Minister – a man blatantly modelled after Harper. Certainly, the jabs are not as harsh or obvious as some might expect (this film would not be mistaken for one by South Park’s Trey Parker), but it works rather well here because it allows some heart to shine through. Huard portrays his politician with the smartass panache that has come to be expected of him, perfectly counteracted by Exantus’ naïveté, but the standout star of this film is Suzanne Clement as Guibord’s loving wife Suzanne, a woman who wants to keep her husband from being harmed by any difficult questions and who insists that he send the country to war.
The film also serves as a document of small-town Canada with many beautiful out-of-the-way towns getting the opportunity to have their moment within the frame, still managing to avoid the pitfalls of Canadiana-porn like One Week.
If I had one issue with this film, it is the fact that some scenes risk turning certain people into stereotypes. Sometimes, that works in a satire, but other times it can be a bit problematic. Specifically, the scenes set in Haiti, which portray a building filled with Haitians discussing Canadian politics with Souverain over Skype, border on neo-colonialist in their treatment of the Haitian people as inherently naive individuals. However, even then, there is some redemption gained by making each character a “person” rather than a mere cog within a greater label.
Overall, My Internship in Canada is the great Canadian political satire that people did not realize they were waiting for.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam