With the first manned mission to Mars as its backdrop, "Mars et Avril" follows three musical geniuses: Jacob Obus, an aging jazz musician and legendary lothario; Eugene Spaak, a late technological wizard who lives on in a cybernetic body; and Arthur, who builds instruments modeled after female bodies. Each of the three finds their lives altered by the appearance of the gorgeous young photographer, Avril.
Directed by: Martin Villeneuve
. Starring: Jacques Languirand
, Caroline Dhavernas
, Paul Ahmarani
, Robert Lepage
, Jean Asselin
, Stéphane Demers
, Jean Marchand
, Kathleen Fortin
, Marcel Sabourin
, André Montmorency
, Gabriel Gascon
, Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais
, Pierre Leblanc
. Music by: Benoît Charest
One thing that struck me right away was the Piscean nature of this film. From the established class of a senior cast, to the somber, swaying, otherworldly music, we are shown a futuristic, nautical Montreal, whose populace regard the maudlin, reflective years of old age as a culturally palpable high art.
Within this film runs a very old and carefully veiled central theme: The final stage of the alchemical process known as Rubedo, which ties into to the Jungian concept of the Anima. We witness the male lead, Jacob, in the later years of his life as he meets his muse (or, the other side of his being), incarnated as Avril. After a lifetime of searching for her through his music, she has emerged from his inner, subconscious landscape into the outer world. Jacob's life of music has been a repetitive transmission to his inner feminine by playing the sounds of unique instruments, crafted as abstractions of the female body.
These instruments are, by their very form, a contraption of the obsessive, outer-seeking nature of masculinity. Of course, one could make the argument toward an objectification of the female body, however, with the care behind each instrument's creation and their foremost utility of soothing, sensual music, there is shown to be a soft and beautiful goal for this kind of obsession. We behold an ethereal collaboration with an unobtainable "other," which in this case, reveals itself in Avril. She willfully poses for the making of the latest, inspired instrument. In doing so, Avril's action proves to be a conscious step in the blossoming of Jacob's Rubedo, the end to his Great Work. She has an artistic practice of her own, photographing men, nude as they admit their innermost vulnerabilities. This process serves to show us Avril's worldly power to lure men into their destined unraveling. In her own words, Avril's work is to "focus on life, death, time, space, nothingness," all words that point to something larger than a human mind can conceive, hearkening to Avril's being as an emissary for transmutation and one who has arrived to breach the unknown.
The word "Rubedo," translates from Latin to mean "the Reddening," the re-introduction of blood and passion, which also holds true in the film's sub-plot: a progression of Earth's space program venturing to Mars. Another astrological cue is worth mentioning here, as April is the time of year that is ruled by planet Mars, the red planet, the planet of passion. Within the landscape of the story, our micro-narrative is Jacob and his meta-journey into his own psychological singularity, the outlying macro-narrative being humanity's evolutionary journey to a foreign planet, long beheld from a great distance. Binding these two poles is Avril, both a real human being and a symbolic entity. Her role in Jacob's life as a revelation serves to mimic mankind's fascination for Mars coming to fruition.
The film reaches a critical point when Jacob can no longer play his instrument. Before the film can veer off into questions of virility or conjectures of symbolic impotence and old age, we are offered the opportunity to dig deeper and see that in his meeting Avril, he has found union. His muse stands before him, in the flesh. His old instruments are no longer necessary, for they have completed their task of speaking the Divine Feminine into being. Further, Jacob reveals a surprising confession -' he's never had a sexual experience with a woman. All articulate arguments toward a man's sexual conquest manifesting via numerous, fetishizing musical sculptures can be neatly tossed aside as we are brought to a more spiritually significant motivation for Jacob. The abstract instruments become a metaphor to imply he was playing the sounds of his Anima all along, in tandem with his age. Now that he has met her in a profound way, his music shows to have been a process of refining this experience sonically, leading to his departure from the world of the concrete, and entering the realm of symbol.
Jacob utters a well-worn line from human history, "I've waited for her my whole life," but here it has less of a cliché underpinning, due to the fact that the woman of whom he speaks is one who leads him to a beautiful nothingness. His life-long artistic pursuit was yearning for a place which, through Avril - his Anima - has finally become a substantial reality. Jacob is able to admit that he is, for the first time, living inside a story that was previously only notes in the air. As in Greek mythology when Amphion had built the walls of Thebes with the plucking of his lyre, Jacob has brought a hidden world to life with his music. However, in Jacob's case, his music did not build walls. It dissolved them, in a determined beckoning of the great abyss.
Review by Jack Bride from the Internet Movie Database.