[Critique] “The cheaters”: Golf, this human comedy

The cheaters, second feature film by Louis Godbout, a whole daring bet. Passionate about golf, the director has chosen to use the sport, its terrain and its retrograde conventions to examine with a magnifying glass – and with humor – the failings of a society where hypocrisy and pretense reign supreme. .

The golf course as a microcosm, therefore, where the forests hide unacknowledged secrets, where the sand traps make the masks fall, where the winds force to change direction and the ponds, to forfeit.

The company, halfway between satire and cynicism, intelligently exploits the burlesque side of a sport steeped in contradictions, where the veneer of appearances is like a religion and threatens, like all good faith, to crack at any moment.

On a beautiful summer afternoon, Hubert (Benoît Gouin) and André (Steve Laplante), two friends and business partners in the retirement home community, join Florence (Christine Beaulieu), the girlfriend the first, for a round of golf.

The peace will however be short-lived, disturbed by the impromptu arrival of Michel (Alexandre Goyette), invited to join the game after having “accidentally” grazed the acolytes with three of his balls. Very quickly, it becomes clear that chance has nothing to do with this meeting, which will upset the apparent harmony of the trio and bring disturbing secrets to light.

Louis Godbout signs a mastered scenario and uses the logical progression of the game of golf to advance the plot and skillfully reveal the motives of his characters. He plays along with the codes of farce to magnify certain situations and certain personality traits, and to reinforce the disturbing strangeness that contributes to the ambient tension. The camera, always in motion and carried by a musical score composed of the most energetic pieces of classicism – offers a little dynamism behind closed doors and to a sport that is at the very least static.

Although he does not always manage to avoid the pitfalls of caricature – the spectator will sometimes want to roll his eyes at the foolish stoicism of Florence or in front of the Bavarian marshal who maintains order with a dignified rigor of the Gestapo—the film always reserves for its characters flashes of realism or humanity which allow us to adhere to the proposition. The actors, all at the top of their game, reinforce this impression of truth.

Like any satire, the film poses, in the background, a critical or mocking look at the contradictions inherent in society and questions gender stereotypes, the setbacks of technology, transhumanism, the limits of personal development, ageism , along with all the rhetoric surrounding it. The reflections, all in all little developed, remain committed while never losing sight of the main theme: hypocrisy, the shaky boundaries of integrity, the lies we tell to others and those we tell ourselves. to oneself.

This cynicism may seem excessive, but the film is actually quite light, funny, down to earth, and leaves room for letting go as much as for interpretation. The whole thing concludes with a predictable, but in every way pleasing finale. Good entertainment… with a little something extra!

The cheaters

★★★ 1/2

Comedy by Louis Godbout. With Christine Beaulieu, Benoît Gouin, Alexandre Goyette and Steve Laplante. Quebec, 2022, 90 minutes. Indoors.

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