Gabrielle

Caught this amazing Canadian French film at the recent Sydney Film Festival.

The choir voices and arrangements are a beautiful backdrop to a moving storyline – young adults with varying intellectual disabilities, wanting to lead independent lives, trying to discover and experience Love in their own ways, dealing with concern from their family members and society who view them in different ways.

Knowing that filmmaker Louis Archambault used authentic actors and settings for this film made it even more inspiring. The authenticity of the characters gave me more to contemplate and reflect on. How do we view the mentally challenged in our societies? Are we guilty of assuming that they do not know or understand certain things, just because they have different intellectual capacities? It can be so easy to gloss over their desires and thoughts, because they do not articulate. However, receptive language is very different from expressive language – just because a person does not (is not able to) express herself does not mean that there is lack of emotions or understanding within. 

The film does a beautiful job of portraying the inner life of Gabrielle, as well as her sister – her carer – highlighting the challenges and fears they face in an ever-changing world. It does not judge, and neither does it ask viewers to come to any moral conclusion or decision – it simply allows us to experience a glimpse of the life of someone with different needs, and asks that we open our minds and hearts that little bit more, to empathize, understand, accept.

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