7 March 2021

Claude Jutra's À tout prendre | All Things Considered | Take It All (1963)

À tout prendre was a daring film for its time, dealing as it does not only with adultery but also abortion and a mixed race relationship. It is also in part autobiographical in that Claude Jutra and Johanne Harelle both appear under their own names and they both had two relationships with each other: first in the late fifties and later during the making of the film; Harelle was not of exotic Haitian origin but she too was born in modest circumstances in Montréal; she was married but, unlike in the film, her pregnancy by Jutra was terminated not by an abortion but by a miscarriage; and Jutra did have homosexual (indeed paedophilic) leanings; Claude drowns himself in the Saint Lawrence River, etc.

The basic story itself is simple to relate: Claude meets Johanne at a party and they fall in love but they want to retain their freedom. In the absence of Johanne Claude has affairs with Monique (Monique Joly) and Barbara (Monique Mercure). Johanne asks Claude if he 'likes boys' and he begins to wonder. When Johanne gets pregnant Claude decides to marry her, then (mentally) brutally changes his mind, gets her an abortion and kills himself in the Saint Lawrence River (as Jutra had done shortly after discovering that he had what was then known as pre-senile dementia. As his soul (?) flies up a hunter shoots it down.

The film is clearly influenced by the French Nouvelle Vague, and on several occasions it's obvious that we're watching a kind of experimental film. But this is seen through Claude's eyes, and Jutra later stated that if he were to re-make it he would have included it through Johanne's eyes too. Throughout the film various continuations of scenes in the film appear as parts of Claude's consciousness: in the beginning, after preening himself in the mirror he fires a shot at it; when he and Johanne are walking down steps in the snow snipers shot them both; two thugs violently attack him at night in the street; and just when he announces that he has an important speeech to make at the bottom of exterior flat steps to just one couple who happen to be passing, he's shot dead.

There are brief apppearances of François Truffaut and Anne Claire Poirier.

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