Michel Tremblay

Playwright, Screenwriter, Novelist
male
Born
1942
in
Montreal , QC
Canada
Quebec CA
Lives in
Montreal , QC
Canada
Quebec CA
Biography

Playwright, novelist, scriptwriter. Inveterate cinephile, Quebec’s most famous living writer and arguably its most famous queer was always in love with the movies and included a scene at his habitual hangout, the Festival des films du monde de Montréal, in his τν-movie gay romance, Le coeur découvert (1986). The record of Tremblay’s involvement in filmmaking, most often in collaboration with his habitual theatrical director, André Brassard (b. 1946), is lamentably sporadic. Their collaboration led to one dazzling and raucous masterpiece, a pioneering manifesto of queer desire based on several of the author’s theatrical works, Il était une fois dans l’Est (Once upon a Time in the East, 1973, director Brassard, scenarist Tremblay, 100; see chapter 4). This pioneering feature of life on the Main is still as cruel and exhilarating, loud and tender, as when it was released thirty years ago. Il était brings together narratives from several classic plays, including Hosanna and Les Belles-soeurs , and assembles the brilliant Tremblay stage ensemble, a who’s who of Quebec theatre, as well as a host of local drag queens. TBP found the film cold, irritating, clichéed, and irresponsible – “just one more film showing gay people sinking under the burden of being alive; and as such has little justification for having been produced at all” (July/August 1975) – but the national gay newspaper couldn’t be right all the time. Pre-queer – even pre-gay – in its sexual politics, Il était may suddenly be back in fashion. Number one on the crying-out-for- DVD -release list. The 1980s saw Le Coeur découvert (The Heart Exposed, director Jean-Yves Laforce [Radio-Canada], Montreal, 1986, 107). I found this TV-movie melodrama, based on Tremblay’s script of a gay neo-family, “a delightful tour de force” when it first came out. It now even seems ahead of its time in its probing of queer parenting (not one risk-taking adult-child bathtub scene, but two!). Scintillating dialogue, strong performances, and an alert sense of urban space – all combine to make this film, winner of the audience prize at the San Francisco queer festival, one of the treasures of the eighties. Tremblay also participated in a few other joint film projects that were more interested in gender melodrama than queer politics in the literal sense. Others of his scripts have been directed by other queer-friendly filmmakers, where interesting supporting gay characters have usually been at hand, for example, in C’t’à ton tour Laura Cadieux (It’s Your Turn, Laura Cadieux, 1998), directed by Denise Filiatrault (who played the unforgettably spunky lesbian waitress in Il était ). Michel Moreau’s TV film Les trois Montréal de Michel Tremblay (The Three Montreals of Michel Tremblay, 1989) class Plateau, the queer tenderloin of the Main, and tree-lined Outremont – and offered an effective cinematic portrait of one of Tremblay’s most memorable characters (also featured in Il était) , the great tragic Duchesse de Langeais.