First known as a rocker and composer, Anik Jean jumps behind the camera and directs a touching first film written by screenwriter Maryse Latendresse. My Mother’s Men tells a story of mourning wrapped in a lot of tenderness and carried by the talented Léane Labrèche-Dor. We have met them.

At least two things unite director Anik Jean and screenwriter Maryse Latendresse, the main architects of the film My Mother’s Men, in theaters next Friday. The two dreamed of cinema for years before daring to launch themselves (one published six albums and the other four novels before) and each in her own way wanted to pay tribute to the men in their lives through this film where Elsie, a character interpreted with amazing naturalness by Léane Labrèche-Dor, must come into contact with the five husbands of her late mother.

Her mission, which she accepts reluctantly, while hers is in a thousand crumbs, will allow her to retrace the life of her mother – a woman who we guess is whole and passionate, whose career as an actress never took off – and pick up the thread of his own. Most of her mother’s five husbands have known her and she is at odds with the only one who is still around, that is to say her father.

“It’s a love story on many levels and that’s what keeps Elsie going,” observes Anik Jean, whom she met earlier this week on the eve of the premiere.

The screenwriter knows what she is talking about: a child of divorce at a time when there was still little divorce in Quebec, she says she “adored” that life and appreciated the traces that her mother’s lovers left in her own life. His screenplay was born out of a simple question: is it possible that this legacy could be beautiful? The autobiographical part stops there, or almost: Maryse Latendresse did not lose her mother and was never at odds with her father, she takes the trouble to specify.

Anik Jean recognized herself in Elsie’s quest, she says. After the unexpected death of her father, she also set out to visit her friends and rediscover him through the eyes of those people who also loved him. “I liked the tenderness that there was in the script,” she also says, adding that Elsie’s headlong rush, her doubts and her drifts also challenged her.

“It was also important for me to pay homage to the men and it is one of the things that I liked the most about the scenario of Maryse, affirms the director, who says that she is tired of the bashing against the men. I have always been surrounded by men, men who were not perfect, but fine, who were there [to support me]. I wanted people to see the faults of those Elsie meets, but to get attached to them. »

These men who marked the life of Elsie’s mother (Anne, played briefly by Anne-Marie Cadieux) are played by Colm Feore, Patrick Huard, Marc Messier and Benoît Gouin. One of Anne’s former husbands is also dead, but while looking for him, Elsie will reconnect with Gaby (Jean-Simon Leduc), who had left her life without explanation ten years earlier.

Léane Labrèche-Dor shares delicate and emotionally rich scenes with each of her five opposite. “It was as if I was shooting five films at the same time”, underlines the young actress. Her challenge, she first thought, would be to find some sort of continuity in her acting to give her character consistency. Then she realized it was counter-intuitive.

We feel throughout the film that the actors had great freedom to bring their colors and even adapt their scores along the way. This is confirmed by the director, who readily admits to having been guided by her interpreters. The collective effort, although intangible, appears on the screen.

Maryse Latendresse is very comfortable with the place that the director and the actors have taken in her story. Filmmaking, she says, is teamwork. “It becomes another story, agrees the screenwriter, but perhaps more carrying, because it crossed several hearts. »