“Will You Be My Boyfriend?” Uncensored Innocence of Gabrielle

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By Raychel Lean, Miami Future Cinema Critic

If, like myself, you’re not much of a hugger, embracing Gabrielle may not come easy at first. But when it does, the connection made will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema. Watching Louise Archambault’s film is a bit like listening to rain drum outside the window while you lay warm in bed. It’s the universal medicine you didn’t know you needed.
Gabrielle, by Louise Archambault

Gabrielle is a belated coming-of-age story following a 22-year-old woman wrestling against the frustration of having Williams syndrome, a genetic condition and learning disability. She yearns for the independence she knows she’s unable to handle, and aches to be alone with her “darling,” Martin. Both are talented members of Les Muses de Montreal, a choir made up of developmentally disabled singers, but discouraged from spending time alone because they’re not a “normal” couple.
With the type of liveliness usually seen in children, the lovers build a relationship without games or pretense. With no ulterior motives besides affection, they’re simply themselves, and it’s refreshing to watch. The audience are shown beauty in the uncensored condition, as though let in on a secret. Although not free in the traditional, “grown-up” financial sense, she is free because she’s unafraid of life. Sensitive Gabrielle practices freedom of expression. She sings, socializes, and doesn’t allow doubt to filter her. She’s freer than a lot of us will ever allow ourselves to be.  
Gabrielle, by Louise Archambault
Two strategically placed moments of silence amongst gentle French melodies mark the most emotionally pivotal moments in the film. This is not “to cut the budget” as Archambault jokes, but to extend sensitivity, “it was really a gut feeling for me to do that.”

Archambault creates a character whose enthusiasm towards life, regardless of struggle, is impossible to ignore. Her smile is consistently present, and never limited to her mouth. Reigning free all over her face, it’s contagious, and evidently part of the reason Gabrielle Marion-Rivard won Best Actress at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. With this feature, Archambault wants to tease out your sensitive side. Go on, let her. It’d be rude not to.


Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.