“The Favourite Game” (2003), also known as “Le jeu de l’ange”, is a Canadian film. It begins with this piece of pure whiteness in a Montréal park and also ends there:
“The Favourite Game” was adapted from the novel of the same title. The novel has this to say about Montréal:
“Some say that no one ever leaves Montreal, for that city, like Canada itself, is designed to preserve the past, a past that happened somewhere else. This past is not preserved in the buildings or monuments, which fall easily to profit, but in the minds of her citizens.”
Montréal seems to match the protagonist, Leo Breavman (J.R. Bourne) who preserves the memory of his childhood, a past in his mind that happened elsewhere.
Young poet Leo creates his work about his feelings and the intense moments he shares with the women he loves; Tamara (Sabine Karsenti), Shell (Michèle-Barbara Pelletier) and Lisa (Cary Lawrence). He is unable to commit to any one of them because the uncommitted relationships are the source of his constant flow of inspiration.
He puts an end to his brief but torrid affair with Tamara because he wants to rediscover himself.
Then he falls in love with Shell passionately. Their love is beautifully captured on film and as the night approaches their intertwined images gradually merge into the moon:
This sunset image is also almost perfect:
When Leo leaves her, Shell’s heartbreak is artfully expressed through the car mirror:
Here comes Leo’s “true love” in his childhood memory of Lisa the child (Ashley Lang):
“Lisa the child had evaded me and was still perfect, suddenly making all other women less perfect. They were still beautiful, but somehow less crucial.”
“Lisa the child, that perfection remained, preserving the past. Everything could be preserved forever, like my connection to Shell, and in that moment, I remembered.”
“I remember flying over the snow and landing. And then I carefully stood up to look behind me at a perfect imprint, both human and angelic, in the perfect whiteness behind me, and that, that was the favourite game.”
A perfect novelist and a wonderful film director (Bernar Hébert) made this film capture their own sense of perfection.
True love is pure and it is a series of perfect moments in your memories, especially the childhood memory, almost angelic, the pure whiteness.
I think that the film should be called “The Angel Game” to match the French title “Le jeu de l’ange”.
The novel “The Favourite Game” is an autobiographical novel of the author, Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen is a typical idealist, a hopeless romantic perfectionist. Only a perfect childhood memory can fulfill his sense of “true love”.
He is, after all, a “ladies’ man” (though he has spent 10,000 nights alone) with a charm that doesn’t grow old with age.
The crowd tends to forget about the screenwriter in their praise for the writer of the novel. Even though Leonard Cohen may have supplied the base of a storyline, the film would not be exceptional without the screenwriter’s remarkable contribution. The excellent movie quotes about Lisa the child and the imprint are all created by the screenwriter Peter Putka, independent of the novel, and you cannot find comparable related texts in the novel.
This novel/film excels in its meaning rather than its storyline. Peter Putka understands the main idea of the novel so well that he expresses it in the form of film narration even better than Leonard Cohen does in the novel.