Anné Émond

Canada, 2016 / 101 min / French OV with English subt. / Drama

A celebrated and hotly discussed writer, Nelly scandalizes the French literary scene with her semi-autobiographical novel based on her experiences as a sex worker. But she has many faces: the curious young woman, the confident call girl, the druggy beauty, the camera-ready celebrity, and – in private – the talented and insecure writer plagued by her self-doubt and angst. Almost manically trying to control her image ever since her first best-seller, and yearning for approval, Nelly transposes her multifaceted life in her books, opening the border between life, work and public perception.

“Nelly” is an unusual biopic about the Quebec writer Nelly Arcan, who died in 2009. The film translates her multiple personas in different characters, played with intensity by Mylène MacKay. A kaleidoscopic portrait of a talented, broken, beautiful and restless woman.

Thu 02/03 21:30 Ciné Utopia FR OV with EN subt. Public
Fri 03/03 21:00 Cinémathèque FR OV with EN subt. Public

“ (…) Émond writes the onscreen Nelly as a composite of Arcan’s many personas and her fictional characters, brought to life in an astounding, kaleidoscopic performance by Mylène Mackay. As the film moves from one striking passage of the author’s œuvre to the next, from elating highs to desperate lows, we are immersed in her lush and punishing world.” Magali Simard, Toronto International Film Festival, 2016

“A mix of make-believe and memoir, the film introduces us to the different sides of Arcan – all of which are stunningly played with fine degrees of nuance by Québécoise actor Mylène Mackay. Marrying form with these split-character studies, the film’s sequencing does not follow a straight path. Rather, through Émond’s framing we meet four of Arcan’s alter egos: the neurotic writer, the toxic lover, the call girl and the star. (…) “Nelly” plays with the lies and half-truths of the author’s life at the same time that it depicts her on the precipice of her own vulnerability.” Julia Cooper, The Globe and Mail, 08/09/2016

“Based on the turbulent life of prostitute-turned-novelist Nelly Arcan, who died in 2009, Nelly is a movie every bit as racy, rough-edged and conflicted as the woman whose story it tells. (…) To show all sides of Arcan, Émond wrote an impressionistic, non-linear script that circles through different aspects of Arcan’s life and character, from the self-assured sex worker to the junkie/lover and affirmation-obsessed writer. Inhabiting each of those roles and more is Mylène Mackay, aptly named one of TIFF’s rising stars this year and sure to garner all kinds of attention, not mention awards, for her fearless performance. (…) there’s a feminist mission to the movie. It talks about beauty obsession and the culture of youth, the tyranny of the gaze of others and the male gaze. These are subjects we don’t talk about that much in film.” T’cha Dunlevy, Montreal Gazette, 12/09/2016

“Anne Émond’s “Nelly” will haunt you. The director of “Nuit #1” and “Les êtres chers” returns with her most provocative film yet. It’s a hypnotic portrait of a complicated and elusive figure. (…) “Nelly” is a spellbinding reverie as Émond dives deep into her character’s subconscious with beguiling mise en scène that imperceptibly transports the author between different realities while the cinematography by Josée Deshaies seduces the viewer with its dark and lush imagination of Arcan’s carefully composed lives. (…) Mylène Mackay plays all these characters in a tour de force performance.” Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer : A Canadian Film Review Site, 19/09/2016

Cast & Credits
Mylène MacKay, Mickaël Gouin, Milya Corbeil-Gauvreau, Francis Leplay, Emmanuel Schwartz, Marc Béland, Catherine Brunet, Marie-Claude Guérin
Anne Émond, based on the life and works of Nelly Arcan
Josée Deshaies
Claude La Haye, Sylvain Brassard
David Pelletier
Go Films
Les Films Séville

Montreal-based filmmaker Anne Émond (1982) studied cinema at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She has written and directed seven short films between 2005 and 2011, including “Naissances” (2009) and “Sophie Lavoie” (2010). In 2012, she received the Claude Jutra Award for her debut film “Nuit #1” (2011) as the year's best feature film by a first-time director. Nelly” is her third feature.

  • 2016, Nelly
  • 2015, Les êtres chers
  • 2011, Nuit #1
  • 2011, Plus rien ne vouloir (short)
  • 2010, Sophie Lavoie (short)
  • 2009, Naissances (short)
  • 2009, L'ordre des choses (short)
  • 2008, Frédérique au centre (short)
  • 2008, Juillet (short)
  • 2005, Qualité de l'air (short)