Blu-ray Review: Dirty Money [CIP] | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 27th, 2023  

Dirty Money

Studio: Canadian International Pictures

Aug 04, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In early ‘70s Montreal, Roland and Berthie Soucy manage to scrape by on their meager earnings from their scrapyard. To make ends meet both at work and at home, Roland’s taken on a boarder in Ernest, a supposedly feeble hired hand whose lodging is docked from his weekly salary. They’re visited by his estranged Uncle Arthur, a widowed miser whose well-intentioned gift of $500—a pittance of his fortune—is taken as an insult by Berthie. As Roland drives his uncle home, Berthie hatches a plan with two local thugs to pay Uncle Arthur a visit in his home and force him to hand over more money. Their foul plot turns south, however, when Ernest follows them to the crime scene…

The first narrative feature from Denys Arcand (Gina), the director’s documentary-filmmaking roots can be spotted throughout 1972’s Dirty Money. Lengthy scenes play out with all of the relevant characters in the frame, the camera rarely shifting and long stretches of dialogue going uninterrupted by edits. This stark cinematography often makes it feel as if the film is capturing a moment, rather than a performance. Action is shot from a distance, as if the cameraman is wary of intervening. At one point, the characters take a drive through dark neighborhoods lit only by their headlamps; each shot is a long, drawn-out take, and the viewer can’t help but feel that they’re just along for the ride (quite literally).

This unusual detachment extends to the story that unfolds on screen, thanks to a script that doesn’t necessarily follow any one character so much as it follows the dirty money that passes between hands. Ernest, who is the closest thing we have to a main character for the bulk of the film’s runtime, is also the film’s most tight-lipped; he keeps his cards close to his chest, never indulging others (or the audience) in his intentions until his actions speak for themselves. Dirty Money feels like an old poverty row crime film, minus all of the fast-talking. These characters aren’t the clever crooks we see in those movies, but unskilled criminals who find themselves easily cornered. It’s an offbeat, thrilling watch.

CIP’s restored Blu-ray has a very strong image, presenting the low-budget feature with good clarity and nice colors. Bonus features include a new, on-camera interview with Arcand in which he reminisces on the movie’s production and delightfully explains in detail how and where someone would need to be shot (and with what) to make their body fly across a room. This is accompanied by interviews with Quebec film historian Robert Daudelin (video) and cast members Marcel Sabourin and Gabriel Arcand (audio). We also get a commentary by Canuxploitation experts Paul Carupe and Jason Pichonsky, trailers for Arcand’s other narrative features, and a booklet interview with co-writer Jacques Benoit.



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