Quebec Studies

Romantic Disillusionment, (Dis)Identification, and the Sublimation of National Identity in Québec’s "New Wave": Heartbeats by Xavier Dolan and Night #1 by Anne Émond

Quebec Studies (2014), 57, (1), 171–191.


This article examines (post)nationalism in recent Québécois cinema. I study the films Heartbeats (2010) by Xavier Dolan and Night #1 (2011) by Anne Émond, which portray personal stories of love and lust. Looking at the link between intimate and political relationships, I investigate what the new tendency to portray today’s disillusioned youths’ unfulfilled romantic fantasies tells us about how contemporary Québec identifies, connects with, and defines itself in opposition to the Other. This phenomenon appears to be all the more prominent in Québec since Québec’s national identity has historically been defined “in opposition,” alternately to the British colonizer, to the rest of English-speaking Canada, to the English-speaking minority within Québec, and more recently to immigrants from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. Thus I suggest that Québec’s exclusionary model of identity has been incorporated in the construction of personal identity, leaving today’s youth longing for a closeness that is impossible to accomplish. I propose to focus on the “politics of the intimate” in what has been dubbed Québec’s “New Wave,” which is symptomatic of a more profound anxiety that traverses contemporary Québec culture and its increasing multiculturalism.

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Author details

Baillargeon, Mercédès