For their first feature production, the INIS film school didn’t go for the self-indulgent pretentious borefest one might have expected nor did they cynically aim for something crassly commercial. “Premier Juillet” is not a great picture, but if director Philippe Gagnon and his fellow INIS graduates’ objective is to show that they can make a movie both well crafted and entertaining, they are successful.
Not unlike “Québec-Montréal”, the film follows different people going through the same ordeal but, instead of driving on the highway between the province’s two biggest cities, the characters in “Premier Juillet” take part in the typically Québécois tradition of all moving on the same day. There’s a family leaving Montreal for the countryside, to the dismay of their teenage son. A couple moves together for the first time and quickly find his sloppiness and her control freak nature causing friction. Finally we have a trio of youngsters who got thrown out of their apartment after a weeklong party and must find new digs in a hurry.
Shot in high-definition and featuring an eclectic score by Stéfan Boucher, “Premier Juillet” is a lively and amusing if not particularly insightful comedy. The excitement and anguish of leaving one home for another affects each person in a different way, but the screenplay by Mylène Lauzon and Jean-François Lepage fails to define the characters beyond a few superficial traits. The cast is able to fill in some of the blanks, though, and the movie remains a pleasant summer diversion.