On February 24th 2023, appeared for the first time ever on your local theatre’s screen Le plongeur, a movie by Francis Leclerc. Based on the famous novel by Stéphane Larue, Le plongeur beautifully narrates how Stéphane, played by Henri Picard, figures out his life as a young adult. Between his broken heart, his broken dreams, and his crippling addiction to gambling, Stéphane obtains a job as a dishwasher in a fancy restaurant. There, he discovers a strong community and unexpected friendships, notably with Bébert (Charles-Aubey Houde) and Bonnie (Joan Hart). From this point on, the story unfolds to showcase his struggles to beat his addiction and reimburse his debts. This film is a jewel because it immerses the audience in the frantic worlds of restauration and gambling.
The first scene of the film showcases the brilliance of the camera work. In fact, during the first scene, there is a shot panning from the ceiling, moving through a busy kitchen. The audience gets a beautiful panoramic view of the cooks, the servers, and the dishwasher working in the kitchen. The shot catches the true essence of a kitchen during rush hour and it introduces the film in a magnificent manner. It also sets the tone for all the delightful images to come. Indeed, all throughout the film, there is a multitude of dazzling light work, different angles, and original camera movements which work together to create showstopping images. The spinning table, Stéphane’s black figure in front of an orange foundation, and his reflection through the gambling machines are examples of this extraordinary work. All these fascinating images work together to immerse the audience into the less glamorous part of the culinary world and into Stéphane’s addiction.
Stéphane’s gambling addiction is a recurring theme in the 2 hour-long movie. The audience gets a glimpse of every facet of the addiction: the machines, the table games, the lottery, and the money problems. This is why at a certain point in the movie, the story gets redundant because the same problem arises over and over again without any indication of resolution. The moment the audience thinks Stéphane might get better, he does not. A reason for this might be that the producer’s intention is to depict how hard it actually is to get out of the addiction. But, then again, the movie lasts over two hours, which is more than enough to display gambling addiction and all its hardships. This is part of the reason why Stéphane is not endearing. On the other hand, Bébert stole the show! His character, tough but sweet, is charming from the beginning to the end. From teaching Stéphane how to do his job to being the friend that cares, Bébert, the big guy with the big heart type character, completely steals the audience’s hearts.
Moreover, the ending of the movie is rushed. There is no sense of closure in Stéphane’s story because everything in his life is bad until everything isn’t and the story does not provide an explanation of how it got good. There are money problems, crying, and murders. Until all the problems just disappear into thin air. This was increasingly frustrating because that is not representative of real life. Also, as the movie is quite long, it could have focused on how the main character works through his problems instead of showcasing the problems themselves for the majority of the movie and then showing how good his life becomes only after his problems are resolved.
Finally, the pièce de resistance in the movie is the soundtrack. The music is gentle when life is finally good, but it is rushed, exhilarating, and rock and roll to show the excitement of the kitchen, the mess in Stéphane’s brain, and the chaos that is his life. And it is not only the music, but it is also everyday sounds that infiltrate the movie’s soundtrack to depict the emotions and obsessions of the main character. For example, the sound of the dishwasher juxtaposed with the music in his Walkman, or even the sound of absolutely nothing when his world crumbles. In short, the music and the sound effects cleverly display the agitated energy of the movie.
To conclude, Le plongeur by Francis Leclerc is a cinematography masterpiece because of the camera work, the sound effects, and the music. And while the story might bore the viewer searching for entertainment, it will definitely fascinate the viewer in need of sublime cinema with its amazing display of cinematic skills. Knowing that the movie was based on the acclaimed novel Le plongeur by Stéphane Larue, it would definitely be interesting to see how they differ from one another. But that is a task for another time.