Le Dep is an excellent low budget movie that explores some important themes. The movie is set in an Innu community in rural Quebec and follows the events surrounding an armed holdup at a convenience store. The evening staff don’t show one evening, and the afternoon help – Lydia, played by Eve Ringuette – the daughter of the owner is asked to stay on. This isn’t an ordinary evening however as the monthly welfare payments have to be prepared, which means that there is a lot of cash on the premises – a responsibility new to the daughter. It’s also the lure for a local indebted crack addict to make his move. Although a very different movie, Le Dep has some themes in common with the excellent Wild River.
The underlying theme of both movies is the lack of prospects and opportunities in indigenous communities in North America and the strategies the inhabitants take to deal with their situation. In the family we’re focusing on in Le Dep, the mother dies young from alcohol abuse, and the son descends into drug addiction. The father, probably shocked into action by the death of his wife decides to battle his own alcohol addiction, and eventually cleans himself up and dedicates himself to building a business out of the convenience store. Lydia, the main focus of the movie, runs away for several years until she gets her head straight, and then returns to help her father with the convenience store. The other Innu character, a customer in the store, is an old friend of the father, and is still very clearly an alcoholic. The only character that doesn’t seem to have any addiction issues is the non-Innu cop, Lydia’s boyfriend.
We’re asked to consider how far people are responsible for the effect of their actions on others, and at what point the person needs to take responsibility for themselves. The son’s addiction is a classic response to a lack of love at a young age. The parents spend days on drunken binges, and the father beats the boy. At the age of 15 the boy’s sister – the main character of the movie – runs away. Should she have taken her younger brother with her? Does she have some responsibility for what he became? Does she has some responsibility for the death of her mother, who we’re told drank twice as much after she left? Is the father responsible? The message of the movie, for me, seems to be an existentialist call for the victim, the son, to stop blaming others – whether rightly or wrongly – for his problems, but to take responsibility for trying to fix them. At the end of the movie Lydia gives her brother the money he needs to pay off his creditors and tell him to get out of the town and to never come back. He has to remove himself from the environment that has been feeding his addiction, and to make a fresh start – if their father can do it, he can do it.
Our verdict: 10/10 – an excellent movie – beautifully filmed and acted, lots of dramatic tension, and some things to think about. Oh, and I cried at the end!