Honouring the Abilities of the Great Jean-Marc Vallée

By: Hogan Short

In 1995 VIFF showed the intense debut film Black List directed by Canada’s own Jean-Marc Vallée. It was apparent even then that this Canadian talent was going to be a force in the industry.

Fast forward to the 2018 festival, VIFF will be awarding Vallée with the well earned VIFF Tribute Award. Here are just four reasons among a multitude of why Vallée deserves this honour from the festival.

His ability to get projects off the ground.

In 2005, Vallée directed his breakout film C.R.A.Z.Y. This wonderful and important film was well received and boasts an incredible soundtrack. This soundtrack was curated entirely by Vallée basically asking nicely for the rights to use artist’s music for his little film. This film, that should have costs a fortune in music licensing rights on its own, then exploded onto the scene.

His ability to take on any subject.

After making C.R.A.Z.Y., an emotional examination on a young man’s struggle with homosexuality and religion in the 1970’s against a backdrop of David Bowie, Jean-Marc Vallée made a period piece. Yes, he made a period piece on Queen Victoria’s early turbulent and romantic years during her reign.

Then he made a visual odyssey on love. Then a film about an ignorant cowboy dealing with his recent AIDS diagnosis. Then a film about a woman’s journey of self discovery through the West Coast Trail while looking back on her past. Then a film about grief and love and regret told through one man’s eyes while he looks for help through the phone with a customer service rep. It’s safe to say Vallée is not a one trick pony.

His ability to get the most from his actors.

Dallas Buyer’s Club was in many ways Vallée’s first big mainstream film. His two leads were Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. McConaughey was in the first stages of his renaissance and Leto was in his big push to being a welcomed dramatic actor.

In an emotionally important, physically transforming film like Dallas Buyer’s Club there is a responsibility to treat this true story with respect and Vallée did just that with his two male leads. They were both awarded Academy Award’s that year for their performances under Vallée’s direction.

His ability to tackle long form storytelling.

Jean-Marc Vallée’s first foray into television was the intense, female driven Big Little Lies. This was a female produced show with powerhouse female performances. This show was critically praised and went on to win four golden globes.

His second endeavour was television as well, directing the adaptation to screen of a Gillian Flynn novel, Sharp Objects led by Amy Adams. This was again, an emotionally intense female led drama. In both projects Vallée finds his own directorial voice and each show has been praised for it’s storytelling choices. Whether it’s film, or television, a commercial or a finger-painting, Vallée’s next project is always something to look forward to.

VIFF Tribute Award: Jean-Marc Vallée

When: Tuesday, October 2

Where: Vancouver Playhouse – 600 Hamilton St, Vancouver

Cost: $25


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