L'affaire Dumont

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on March 14, 2013

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Dear Jean-Patrick Joseph
Special Equipment Supplier

Dear Jean-Patrick,

For such a painstakingly specific and accurate film, you sure have a generic position. My mind races to guess what "special equipment" you supplied, exactly. I figure it was something shady, since it's a well-known secret that the top suppliers in Montreal's film industry are engaged in corrupt and monopolistic practices. But that assumption would be a blind (and possibly false) accusation, and a crime in and of itself. After watching L'affaire Dumont, that's obviously the last thing in the world I want to do.

As the follow-up to his outstanding social services drama 10 ½, director Daniel "Podz" Grou tackles the true story of Michel Dumont - a man convicted of rape and sentenced to federal prison despite an alarming lack of evidence. Quebec heartthrob Marc-Andre Grondin completely transforms himself into the quiet, passive, and inarticulate grocery deliveryman who suffers from a series of injustices. His mulleted mop, bushy stash and shaded glasses may scream sex offender, but the film slowly peels away those same stereotypical judgments that put him in prison. Granted, that fashion style should be locked away in the annals of history, and only re-supplied for important dramatic re-enactments: you're lucky this film counts as one of those special occasions.

The film goes to such lengths to reflect reality that we're told all court dialogue used in the film is verbatim from the official transcript. This makes it especially difficult to see Dumont's lawyer wilt every time the judge challenges the already half-hearted defense strategy. As a result, we're left wondering if everyone else knows something we don't. Dumont remains a bit of an enigma through much of the film, and his innocence is not exactly presumed, as the victim points him out in court as the man who raped her. Neither the witness nor the judge seem to take into account all the other factors that don't fit, like missing tattoos and an entire house of people who say Dumont was with them on the night in question. But as the defense's witnesses jumble their stories, the fact Dumont looks like a rapist (even if he's not "the" rapist") seems enough to seal his fate. If only he'd have shaved sooner.

Once he does, director Grou risks breaking the verisimilitude by using archival footage of Dumont during a climactic moment. We then return to Grondin's performance, and it's a testament to the filmmakers that we never seem to break our emotional connection. It's a bold and overt decision, but one that pays off as the encounter is too strange and unique to believe otherwise.

See, sometimes honesty goes a long way.



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