“Gaz Bar Blues” in theater and music

«Gaz Bar Blues” in theater and music” /></p>
<p>The film <em>Gaz Bar Blues</em> was released 20 years ago, instantly charming Quebec audiences, who have held it in their hearts ever since. It is now adapted for the theatre, presented at Duceppe until February 18, in a play which, its artisans hope, can be just as warm. </p>
<p>“People don't necessarily remember the story details of the movie, but they do remember how they felt watching it; they probably felt good, ”says Martin Drainville, interpreter of the Boss in the play, a role played, in an unforgettable way, by Serge Thériault in the film. “There is something soft in <em>Gaz Bar Blues</em> and I think [that with the piece] we will touch on something that feels good. » </p>
<p>The theatrical adaptation picks up the same story. We follow François Brochu, known as Le Boss, owner of a small neighborhood service station who is struggling to manage his relationship with his sons, indifferent to the fate of his business threatened by competition from neighboring self-service stations, to the disease of Parkinson who afflicts him and to the hold-ups of which he is the victim. A panoply of colorful snowmen gravitates around his business, adding action to his daily life. </p>
<h3 id=A story that speaks to everyone 

Unwittingly, with this largely autobiographical ode to ordinary people, filmmaker Louis Bélanger had a winning formula. “I didn't realize it at first, I was just talking about my family memories, but there are unifying elements in this film, he says in an interview with Métro. At the reception, I saw that there was a universality in the words that joined the world. I was surprised. People told me that in their village too, there was this small epicenter trade where people met. » 

Martin Drainville is one of the viewers who recognized themselves in the film. “I come from the same economic background, I have the same references, the same type of family, I have experienced the same issues. The actor was touched by this break between two generations, that of his father and his own, in particular because his generation was generally more educated than the one that preceded it, which created a gap. 

There is also this ode to father-son love that he liked. “Before, there was more modesty in saying that we loved each other between men. Our fathers were sentient beings, but they did not give themselves the right to express it. We took many detours to tell each other. Not for nothing that hockey was so popular, it was an opportunity to come together. »

The comedian remembers feeling sad thinking about the few meaningful emotional conversations he had with his father. But he realized that there were, however, gestures that spoke volumes. “Our fathers were patentees who knew how to do everything, naturally generous. »

Louis Bélanger's father was dead when he wrote the film. So he made a beautiful and sweet portrait of it. “I had less modesty to write full-page that I loved it, he confides. I had had enough of the representation of violent men and alcoholics in Quebec cinema. Me, my father, he was not the same. » 

A film that becomes a play 

The success of Gaz Bar Blues came early in the career of Louis Bélanger and haunted him for a long time. Every movie he released after that, he was reminded how much we loved his Gaz Bar Blues. That said, he's not complaining. 

The director gave carte blanche to the team by encouraging them to appropriate and shake up the cinematographic proposal. David Laurin, who signs the adaptation, kept him informed, allowing Louis Bélanger to sometimes bounce back with a few notes. “It could sometimes be right to do an imitation of one of the guys, since I have known them all in real life. . 

One of the peculiarities of the play is that all the actors on stage, except Martin Drainville, play a musical instrument live. Halfway between the classic theater play and the musical performance, we are however far from the musical.  

The blues, instrumental only, is in the spotlight. For the filmmaker, it is music associated with the working world that provokes many emotions. “There are a lot of things left unsaid between the characters and the music comes to express what they dare not say in words out of modesty,” adds the actor.  

If the music was also an integral part of the film, the piece stands out by transforming the character of the youngest brother, who represented Louis Bélanger himself, into a young girl, the only one in the family to be interested in gas-bar and the mecanic. It thus updates the story, if not strongly conjugated in the masculine. 

Twenty years later, we still find in the news echoes of the issues addressed in the film. If in 1989, the year in which the action of Gaz Bar Blues takes place, “the fall of the Berlin wall heralded as a form of liberation, a way of living in a more socialist world in a good sense term, it looks like the gaps are widening more than ever, especially with the war in Ukraine,” believes Martin Drainville.  

And if self-service stations threatened small gas- bar at the time, Louis Bélanger now fears the immense power of companies like Amazon that are killing small local businesses, which he considers essential to preserve the social fabric. Finally, the transmission of values, the family legacy, was and will always be a universal and topical subject.

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