Director, scriptwriter. Montreal-based Gaudreault’s Mambo Italiano (2003), the queer Canadian box office sensation of 2003, was the most successful popular gay comedy since Outrageous! Co-scripted by Gaudreault and Steve Galluccio, the author of the 2002 hit play in both English and French, Mambo’s commercial success was due in part to the flashes of authenticity and over-the-top humour tapped from Galluccio’s own experiences growing up and coming out in Montreal’s Little Italy, and in part to timing. The film was sold around the world to distributors eager for a repeat of the humungous 2002 G-rated ethnic sleeper My Big Fat Greek Wedding. So eager was the all powerful American distributor to recap the earlier success, that they forced the removal of the two onscreen kisses between the protagonist Angelo and his closety cop lover Nino, interfering considerably with the coherence of the film. Like La Cage aux folles in the seventies, Mambo divided its audience between the outsiders who found the caricatural humour the most hilarious thing they’d ever seen, and queers who recognized the moments of truth but found much of the gaps and excesses troubling, not the least of which was the downbeat ending which had been much more satisfyingly ambiguous in the play. In the play, the hunky but traitorous Nino ends up, not as Gaudreault’s unrepentent and unproblematical hetero paterfamilias but as the troubled and still closeted man haunting a gay sauna when his new wife is not looking. Gaudreault attempted to alter the tone by adding a romantic ending for Angelo with a gay helpline activist, based on the director’s own experiences as a volunteer years earlier, but with mixed success, and the scenes making fun of the helpline’s distressed young clients is less uproarious than tasteless.
Gaudreault is a commercially proven scriptwriter and director, whose notable earlier hit Nuits de noce (2001), had already established his knack for directing ensemble comedy and familial farce. It had also incidentally proven more current than he probably expected: sending a boisterous Québécois extended family to Niagara Falls for a hetero wedding, Gaudreault wove in as supporting characters a gay male couple who decide to tie the knot as well and seem to be surprised when they’re refused a licence by the Ontario civil service. Two years later, the script would have needed some updating.
The unfortunate choice of filming his dramatic comedy feature Comment survivre à ma mère in English Surviving My Mother(2007, 95) was panned by critics on both sides of the language divide, but did well enough with audiences to merit investment in his next feature, the father-son cop comedy De père en flic(2009, 107). The charming (and thankfully French language) film became the highest grossing Canadian film that year in either language, and the highest-grossing Québec French lanuage film of all time. For his 2014 feature, Gaudreault would venture into bromance territory with Le vrai ou le faux (in English Furie, a critically well-received tale of a famous director (played by art-house favorite Stéphane Rousseau) who meets a soldier with PTSD (the hunky Mathieu Quesnel) and is inspired to make movies again.