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  • Finally, after the many Maclean's articles, bad word of mouth, and even rejection by its own director, Picture Claire was finally released to the public in June 2003, via DVD and Video.

    I'm puzzled to see how Alliance Atlantis considered "Texas Rangers" to be worthy of a wide release, while they chose to write off their $11 million investment in the first decently-budgeted Canadian film.

    With a pair such as Semi Chellas, who writes "The Eleventh Hour" series on CTV, and Bruce McDonald, one of Canada's most satanic directors with "Roadkill" and "Highway 61" under his belt, how could you go wrong?

    They did not. This was a stylish, original movie, which was a treat to watch. Adding to the glamour was seeing some of those little things we take for granted in Ontario, such as passports, drivers' licences, and the Maple Leaf plastered up there on the screen, likely on film for the first time. Paul Haslinger's music score was certainly something new and eclectic, along the same lines as Nash The Slash brought in McDonald's earlier films.

    There were a few rough edges - Camilla Rutherford's pointless role, Peter Stebbings' over-the-top dorkiness, Gina Gershon's seeming ineptitude with a garretting wire, Juliette Lewis' slow drawl. But what the heck, I liked it and enjoyed it.

    This may be Canadian film's ultimate swan song. Check it out before our country's cultural apathy forces the video store to get rid of it.
  • Juliette Lewis convincingly plays Claire, a French speaking woman from Montreal who goes to Toronto in search of a boyfriend. She runs into trouble in Toronto when she is mistakenly ID'd as a suspect who murdered a man in a coffee shop. The unusual twist is that Claire does not know a word of English, all she knows is that she's being pursued by the police, a woman who wants something from her (played by Gina Gershon) and a bad man (played by Callum Keith Rennie) who also wants something from her and probably wants to kill her for it. How can Claire figure all this out, get herself out of trouble and still be able to find her boyfriend?

    It's not a great film, there are alot of plot holes and weird coincidences. What really shines are some of the exciting chase scenes and the wonderful acting by everyone in the film. Juliette Lewis doesn't speak much, and when she does, it's in French. She is very watchable because one can see all the emotions she is going through. I really felt for her because she was in a strange city and was pretty helpless because there was no one to guide her. Gina Gershon is perfect as the criminal who is desperately trying to get away. Ms. Gershon seems to always play these roles of tough, smart woman and she does it very well in this film. Callum Keith Rennie makes a very smooth, very charming, psychopathic bad guy. He's very charming when he speaks, but one can't help feeling how dangerous and evil he is. I'd give the film an "A" for acting, a "C" for plot, and a "B" for the director because I like the way how he directed and shot this film. There was this one imagery in the film that I love, when Claire goes into a thrift shop and steal a pair of red shoes that reminds me of the ruby slippers in the "Wizard of Oz" and a little dog from the thrift shop starts following her around. Claire's definitely not in Kansas any more!
  • In Montreal, Claire Beaucage (Juliette Lewis) loses her belongings when her apartment burns on fire. She decides to travel to Toronto to move to her boyfriend's place, the photographer Billy Stuart (Kelly Harms). Speaking only French, she is mistakenly taken as Lily Warden (Gina Gershon), a woman that killed a smuggler in a coffee shop. The police chase Claire, who does not understand what is happening, while two sadistic criminals chases Lily, who is the second floor neighbor of Billy.

    "Picture Claire" is a comedy of coincidences, with potential of cult-movie. The unusual screenplay has many flaws, since is supported in many coincidences, but is also very attractive. The cinematography, showing the dreams of Claire in parallel with reality, is original and great. Juliette Lewis is very convincing as a young woman in the wrong place at the wrong time that can not understand English. The joke with doors not closed recalled the reaction of Michael Moore in Canada in his "Bowling for Columbine". The sexy Gina Gershon is also great, and I liked this movie a lot. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Identidade Trocada" ("Changed Identity")
  • Picture Claire is an amazing movie by an amazing director, Bruce McDonald. The writer is Semi Chellas, and the main actor is Juliette Lewis, as Claire, a French Canadian woman who has come to Toronto to look for her lover, a photographer named Billy Stuart. Juliette's performance is believable, and she speaks French and a little broken English throughout the entire movie.

    She arrives in Toronto and gets into a wrong place, wrong time scenario, getting tangled into a crime she didn't commit. She also is shocked about her lover. Mickey Rourke and Gina Gershon play two sleazy underworld types, and Callum Keith Rennie is at his best here as a venomous low level mobster and womanizer.

    The film may have a recycled plot, but it works here because of the strong performances from both the leading and supporting cast, and also because of nifty film tricks and special effects...
  • Picture Claire is a good movie, with a good storyline and good acting. But when it didn't go into theatres and Bruce MacDonald himself thought poorly upon it, I had to wonder what was wrong with it. (And I wasn't the only one.) I bought it the first moment I saw it in stores. Basically much of the movie's elements aren't up to Bruce MacDonald's standards. Everything he uses to make a good story- the foreshadowing, the slight hinting toward something, the full circle- wasn't as clear in the movie as it was in others as say Hard Core Logo and Dance Me Outside. Some of the things should have been made clearer, such as the reference to the islands, the misogyny of certain characters and their expectations of Claire. The denument itself seemed to fall apart on him. It ended in quite a mess, but the very ending itself, the closing credits, I liked.

    So the movie has flaws. Most movies do. And it's not up to MacDonald's standards. Does that mean his fans won't enjoy it. No, his fans will still enjoy it. People who aren't fans will still enjoy it. Though somehow it should have been done better it would still have been worth seeing in theatres.
  • This Canadian cult film is littered with strong and reputable American and Canadian actors, and reminds me of some of Brian De Palma's work - like "Sisters" and "Blow Out." It's got that eerie noirish mystery feel that sets it apart from the standard type of Hollywood "suspense thriller." I LOVE Mickey Rourke's appearance as the sleazebag pusherman, and of course Juliette Lewis blew my mind - having loved her work on "From Dusk Till Dawn" and then almost not being able to recognize her as a French-Quebecois woman in this film. Also check this movie out for Callum Keith Rennie. His slow, sadistic manner of delivering his eccentric anecdotes and theories is really entertaining, and he and Mickey take home the billing for "top badass" in this picture. The first 20 minutes pull you in with an exciting street vibe and punchy editing reminiscent of "Run Lola Run," and your eyes stay glued to the screen. The script's dialogue also has its moments where you'll find yourself laughing out loud. This sweet little ditty is for sure worth checking out!
  • albrechtcm25 February 2013
    In this film about a (fairly) innocent girl who comes to Toronto, believing her former lover is as deeply in love with her as she is with him, Juliette Lewis shines. Ms Lewis is arguably one of Hollywood's finest and most under-rated actors, and she carries this film with just the right amount of emotion. Gina Gershon. What can you say? Remember in "Out for Justice" when Gino asks her how she's doing, she says: "I can still get it wet." Who can forget a line like that and the gal who said it? Mickey Rourke is often difficult to watch, but always believable and right on the mark. While he can carry a film like "The Wrestler" he also shines in these little cameos that turn up with some frequency. I should mention Tracy Wright as well. She really made me believe she was a jaded Toronto detective. Overall, this is a film that breaks away from the formula Hollywood 3-act film that we've all come to love, or hate, depending. A neat film well worth watching and perhaps more than once.
  • petitnord31 October 2005
    I don't, as a rule, like thrillers. I am a big fan of Bruce McDonald, however, so full disclosure on that one.

    Picture Claire is a fine film and I had fun watching it. I liked the montage effects and enjoyed the fact that the director let the images tell the story as much as anything else. Juliette Lewis is not quite believable as a Québécoise, although the dialogue and her look ring true. It's just the accent that was not quite there. The villain, Laramie, is kind of overdone as well.

    I also enjoyed the fact that this film was unmistakably and unapologetically set in Toronto. I love seeing that city as itself in films rather than doubling as some other place I had low expectations based on reading other people's reviews and on the lack of (good) press this film got. Those expectations were exceeded. In many ways, this is the most accessible of all McDonald's films, and it's a very good story that is well told, especially on the visual side. Really good.
  • Jailbreak11 September 2001
    This is not the best Bruce MacDonald film, but it is worth viewing once. I'm impressed with the editing, very much so in fact, but the story itself is very predictable. Lewis is good. Gershon is great. I dunno, it's just missing a lot of things that MacDonald is usually good for. I'm unhappy with this film.
  • "Picture Claire" tells of two women whose paths cross in Toronto leading to a mix up which involves innocent but determined Claire (Lewis) in some nefarious skullduggery with a female heavy (Gershon). A noir drama, "PC" has a minimal script and tells most of its story with video and some overdone montaging and other visual effects. Filler is used in lieu of story depth and we're stuck watching a whole lot of running around, hiding, looking for stuff, etc. Lewis plays a French speaker and only utters phrases throughout the film while Rourke, who's high on the roster, gets only a 5 minute role. In spite of all the contrivances and lack of substance, "Picture Claire" does manage a nominal level of entertainment and will appeal most to Lewis or Gershon fans and others into film noir. (C+)

    Note - The DVD I watched had no closed captions or subtitles.
  • October 2007 Movie: "Picture Claire" - 2001 Never saw this movie before, then, one night, flipping channels on TV, there it was. On a specialty channel called "BRAVO". It caught my attention immediately and drew my interest to continue watching.

    Now maybe this is not the type of film your average movie goer is going to enjoy a lot ... but I really enjoyed it ... and if you like "different" or "unique" or "independent" movies - I recommend, watch it.

    Probably because I am Canadian and have worked and lived a couple of times in both Toronto and Montreal (but am native of neither - I actually come from a small city right in the middle of these two big cities) I have some insight into the people, places, characters, cultures and ways of these two major Canadian cities. I love to watch these "Canadian" movies whose themes involve Toronto & Montreal ... and the differences. (There was another one recently ... Bon Cop Bad Cop ... Good Cop Bad Cop ... en Anglais et aussi en Francais ... both in English and in French ...a sort of Starsky & Hutch film, one Cop from Toronto, one from Montreal ... see it! ) Tales of Two Cities ! T.O. and M.O. - love those .

    Back to "Picture Claire" ... Lead actress ... I would have swore she was a real Quebec girl/fille from Montreal. But I understand she's actually not! Well done! Well acted. Well played. Quebec character, dress, attitude, French, accent, slang and all. She plays the quick, smart, intuitive, Quebec girl ... with emotional intelligence. Knows a lot more than you think ... and can figure out a heck of a lot more in a second - just with a glance - just by looking at you ... ( It's a real character you know! ).

    Before reading all the other comments on this film, I too thought there were just too many "coincidences" to make the film actually believable ... but hey ... it's a movie... a story to thrill and entertain also ... and FATE can do some amazing things sometimes ... and stranger things have happened - I'm sure. I guess that's one of the points the film is trying to make.

    The other neat little things in the movie - keep you thinking and entertained. And are a good study, I'm sure, for Cinema class. Probably this is a good movie to study. Take note Drama teachers! example. The little dog and the red shoes. The split screens showing Claire's dreams, wishes, or anticipations - visions of what the future might be.

    I also liked the minimal dialogue. It allowed you to watch, follow, and understand, and put together the story from the images and the happenings ... not cluttered with dialogue. Keeps you thinking. It's not spoon fed to you with words.

    The other actors and parts ... all seemed like real people ... and well played. Made the movie seem real, believable and enjoyable, and drew you in.

    The themes of personal identity and image ... Claire taking on the role of the other lady ... and the "take the money and run off to some Caribbean paradise" story ... of course we're all wanting Clarie to get away to a new life. We're cheering for her.

    We get the impression that Claire is looking to find herself and also to find a new life. Claire is looking for something ... like we all are ... And we all want her to find these things. She becomes like the "Bad guy/girl on the run" who we all want to get away. ( sort of like Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in "The Getaway" movie from 1972 ) Finally all the shots of Toronto .. Union Station ... downtown, Spadina Street ... all the rest ... brought back memories of that place where I once lived and worked ... T.O. ... Go visit sometime ...

    Yours Truly ... Mr Vanwinkles (not my real name) email: ( ... and personally I thought the film was much better than most of the reviews I've read on the internet. It has a style and story much to my liking! and yes ... a possible cult following ...)
  • tedg18 February 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers herein.

    The core of noir is not visual, rather the notion of a fate that governs. Real movies posit the world first, then build the cinematic values to match.

    The typical noir has an ordinary person captured in a machine that appears to be intelligently toying with circumstance. The viewer conspires with this fate: those coincidences would not occur if we hadn't foisted the poor souls into a movie.

    It is a deeply self-referential idea, here emphasized by the hapless victim falling into this world by being photographed. Juliette Lewis tries to be in intelligent films, and that no doubt is why she is here. But she just isn't up to the job technically. It takes the ability to place yourself partly in the world of the film and partly in the space between that world and the world of the viewer.

    At least there is the intent, but it all collapses in the execution.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
  • If you like Picture Claire, or even if you don't, I highly recommend you try to view Claire's Hat. Not really an official movie, it's an excuse film by the director, in an attempt to pardon himself for the terrifyingly bad bomb he'd produced. Wickedly funny for anyone inside or out of the film world, it's something everyone should see. Unfortunately, I haven't heard about any plans for a release of Claire's Hat. If there ever is, grab the chance and see this movie. The best flick of 2003, it will not disappoint.
  • It figures that a decent Canadian film, which lets face it, is a rare commodity, would me mishandled, neglected and not properly promoted, resulting in its exile into the inter zone of obscurity. Picture Claire is an original, stylish little crime thriller with two solid female leads and a story to tell, a story that has regretfully made its way to far too few audiences. Juliette Lewis plays Claire Beaucage, a confused and awkward French Canadian girl who finds herself in way over her head with dangerous, sexy jewel thief Lily Warden (Gina Gershon, in yet another physically demanding role that adds to my wish that she got a crack at playing Catwoman). Lily is on the run from Laramie (Callum Keith Rennie, the king of charisma) a mobster who wants something she stole, which through circumstance is now in the unwitting hands of Claire. The chase then starts, through the unmistakable streets of Toronto and from one violent encounter to the next. The film is a thriller, and a chase flick at heart, but in that heart it's got an almost old world, European flavour. Claire has quaint, almost Amelie esque inner monologues which give us insight into her character. She doesn't speak English, and everyone around her does, which somewhat alienates her. These interludes give us something to latch onto with this strange girl who is more in the dark about what's going on than even we are, watching from behind our screens. Watch for a profane cameo from Mickey Rourke as Gershon's lowlife partner in crime, a scene stealer as always. Thoroughly overlooked, and a true delight.
  • bobtis15 December 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film is just plain not believable. Ms. Lewis who is one of my favorite actresses does not fit here. Her fake French is so annoying and looking for "Billy" really gets on my nerves. I would like for her at least to speak a better form of broken English to keep the plot moving. The direction is so slow and there are long periods of time with no dialogs like when Juliette is hanging from the balcony and dropping her boots to the ground.

    For me this is one of those films from Toronto that just does not fill the bill. A colorless City that always tries to pass for some were else. Plus how long was Mickey Rourke in the Film maybe about 10 minutes?
  • After all the bad press this film received, I was curious to watch it to see if the criticism was justified. It was. I am a Callum Keith Rennie fan and watched it mostly for him, but watching 80 minutes of eye-rolling tripe that made me yell at my TV screen was not worth it for the five minutes of (great) psychopath Rennie. Most of the fancy frame-in-frame-in-frame shots were annoying and did not add anything at all to the story. Claire was ridiculously stupid and there were plot holes in this thing you could drive a truck through. And the plot, such as it was, moved at a snail's pace. I kept wondering when something was finally going to HAPPEN already. Hated this film. A waste of celluloid.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the story of a largely mute French Canadian whose trip to see a one night stand results in her getting mixed up with a smuggling operation gone wrong. The main character risks her life to avoid momentary embarrassment, gives a pep talk to a dog, wanders around the only city in Canada where no one apparently speaks French, has an intense hatred of having her picture taken and frequently fantasizes about being on the Moon.

    That sounds like the makings of a comedy, right? Unfortunately, Picture Claire is a drama that is all quirky and stylized and sucky.

    After her apartment is set on fire by a couple of thugs, Claire Beaucage (Juliette Lewis) decides to leave Montreal and ride the bus all night to Toronto. There she hopes to hook up again with Billy Stuart (Kelly Harms), a young photographer she picked up in a Montreal bar one night. Before that happens, Claire winds up in a diner bathroom as smuggler Lily Warden (Gina Gershon) meets an accomplice in the dining area and kills him. Though she doesn't know it, Claire is blamed for the murder and then finds out Billy has a live-in girlfriend. In an amazingly stupid move, Claire ends up swinging from Billy's balcony into the apartment below…which just happens to be where Lily lives. She grabs Lily's purse and flees, unknowingly taking with her the thing Lily was smuggling. As Lily takes off after Claire, two more of Lily's accomplices take off after her and two flatfooted detectives also join in the search for Claire. A lot of lame going hither and yon ensues, resulting in an ending that goes from marginally clever to hugely idiotic in about 15 seconds.

    The best thing about Picture Claire is the performance of Callum Keith Rennie as one of Lily's accomplices. He plays the character with the flair of a theatrical killer and ends up exactly the way theatrical killers would in the real world.

    Other than that…ugh. Characters repeatedly have to do incredibly dumb things to get the story from one point to another. For all her carefully established traits, Claire is basically a non-entity played pretty much that way by Juliette Lewis. The script tries to compensate for that by giving the other characters more to do and say, but it never bothers to give the audience any reason to care about any of it. Director Bruce McDonald is also incessantly breaking up the screen into smaller boxes with different images in them. It's a mildly engaging visual technique that gets very old, very fast when it becomes clear that McDonald is only doing it because he thinks it looks cool.

    Picture Claire isn't an aggressively atrocious motion picture. It's just one of those lame indy flicks that aren't nearly as hip and cool as they think they are. If you've never seen those kind of movies, you might find this one just barely worth your time. However, there are a lot better films out there for you to watch.
  • This film premiered last night (Sept. 10, 2001) at the Toronto International Film Festival. Tasty and original. An exceptional performance by Lewis in the lead. Also, Mickey Rourke and Camilla Rutherford tear ass in their cameo and supporting roles, respectively.

    The film is quite simply gorgeous. The colors are rich and the edits are sharp. And this is not to downplay the story, which is entralling. This film is a euphoric ride which will keep you intoxicated until well after the last credits roll.

    BONUS: Juliette is on the soundtrack!
  • Alia-1314 January 2002
    Bruce McDonald completely changes his filmmaking style with this film. It's more polished and probably attracts pop culture more. Bruce was probably infulenced by the director of Run Lola Run, with all the running and the techno music. All in all, an amazing film from a filmmaker that is expanding on his genre. Fabulous performances by Lewis, Gershon, Rennie and Rourke.