A young orchestra conductor faces a crossroads in her life and career in this ambitious drama that reunites writer-director Chloé Robichaud with actor Sophie Desmarais.
Days of Happiness
Days of Happiness, the latest drama from Montreal-based writer-director Chloé Robichaud, is an emotionally complex, visually assured drama about a young orchestra conductor who finds herself at a crossroads in her life and career.
Charismatic, gifted Emma (Sophie Desmarais, who starred in Robichaud’s breakout, Sarah Prefers to Run, TIFF ’13) is on track to become a major player on the Quebec classical music scene. Audiences are enraptured by her work, but her career is very closely managed by her controlling father, Patrick (Sylvain Marcel), who’s also her agent. After years of acquiescing to his demands, Emma is finally in a position to re-evaluate both their professional and personal relationships — and that’s when cellist and single mother Naëlle (Nour Belkhiria) enters her life, offering her the chance to experience an entirely different type of family dynamic.
Comparisons to Todd Field’s Tár are likely inevitable, but this is a very different project. For a start, Robichaud is much more sympathetic to her characters, and far more invested in their mental and emotional well-being. Cinematographer Ariel Méthot and artistic consultant Yannick Nézet-Séguin (music director and principal conductor of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain) give the film a visual and aural texture all its own. And Desmarais is uniquely compelling in the role of Emma, who’s only just beginning to realize she can have the life she deserves, if she fights for it.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: themes of emotional abuse; mature themes, sexual content, coarse language