Denise Filiatraut | fire actress

Denise Filiatraut belongs to a rare category of artists that I call “fire actresses”. When you see them play, you never know if they’ll take their assigned roles or if the directors make the wise decision to offer them characters that have “dogs.”

Posted at 7:15am

I asked myself this question again while watching the documentary Denise Filiatraut – Journey of a Legendwhich will be presented on TVA this Friday evening.

This famous fire that I conjure up, Denise Filiatrault brought it to the rage of Hélène (Once upon a time in the east), in the steely character of Blanche Bellefeuille (The death of a lumberjack) or in the grudge of Lola Lee (Montreal will be waiting for me in the morning).

She will also inject this fire into many other characters who have crossed her long career: Rose Ouimet and Pierrette Guérin (The sisters-in-law), Roberta (The pink flight of the flamingo), Gertrud Blum (The Seahorse) or Delima (The beautiful stories of the Pays d’en Haut).

Denise Filiatraut has often talked about her career as a pioneer and tireless worker in numerous interviews. But this documentary, directed by her daughter Danièle Lorain and produced by Denise Robert, shows us an essential aspect of her career: the tremendous desire she had to do this job. When she talks about this little girl she sees performing in a church basement, we understand that from there she would want to do whatever it takes to do the same.

When she took her first steps in the theater when she was eightand year young Denise keeps her makeup on the next morning to go to school. “I wanted to show that I do theatre! Poor little girl, what did you want? she says, describing herself.

But paradoxically, the one who tried her best to make a name for herself tells us that she stopped playing because she was lazy and a little jaded. Learning lyrics had become hard work for her. Therefore, she will turn to directing in the theater and directing in the cinema.


Michel Tremblay is one of two people interviewed in the documentary. The other is Denys Arcand.

Don’t expect to find a crowd of collaborators and playmates around Denise Filiatrault. Only two people appear in this documentary, Michel Tremblay, with whom much is said about the making of sisters-in-lawand Denys Arcand, with whom she did not collaborate except for a 25-second scene in the film gina. You should know that the stagewoman and the filmmaker are good friends.

On the other hand, we are entitled to several excerpts from the archives where we see the music hall aspect of his career and the extreme richness of his career. God she makes things! The finale of the show offers us quite an eloquent image montage in this regard.

To tell about her childhood and her beginnings, we had the idea to bring Denise Filiatraut to the places where she grew up. In front of her birthplace, rue Cartier, between Saint-Joseph and Gilford, she points to apartments and does not hesitate to mention the names of her former neighbors.

Outside the local grocery store (still in existence), she recalls harassing the owner on Wednesday morning to find out if the radio moonsthere was a weekly newspaper in which we talked about the big stars of the hour.

Then, opposite the former Faisan Doré, corner of Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Catherine, she says that she was hired to revive cabaret but that she was “holy outside” because she “wasn’t good”.

It was in this cabaret that she met Jacques Lorain, who would become her husband and father of her two daughters. “My national theater school, my conservatory, he gave them to me. »

It’s obviously about the difficult evenings at Casa Loma, where she performed with Dominique Michel. This artist who will forever associate the audience with Denise Filiatraut is obviously her me and the other. We learn that the “great race of demons” still watches episodes of this comedy that shaped television history and that it always makes them laugh. “Dominique is the girl who has made me laugh the most in my life,” she says.

Denise Filiatrault thinks young people today are very lucky to have theater schools. But when Tremblay asks her if she would have studied the art, she replies yes, before adding that the great impatience she always had is not sure she would have made it after the three or four years of training.

About this mythical impatience so often portrayed by the actors she has directed, she says with satisfaction: “When they were working, I was patient. But when I felt that they hadn’t worked, I would go insane. »

At the end of the documentary, Denise Filiatraut says this amazing thing: “I wasn’t a great actress. But one only has to look back at the great achievements that TV and TV bequeath us to understand that this is dead wrong.

How then to explain the creation of the Denise Filiatraut Lifetime Prize, awarded to a person for their remarkable contribution in the field of the performing arts, whether in terms of composition, creation, artistic direction, production, scenography, staging or stage technology?

“la Filiatraut” is enthusiastic about the versatility of this award. Because with her legendary energy she has mastered this profession from all sides, from all setbacks.

The fire is there too.

Denise Filiatraut – Journey of a Legend. April 22, TVA, 9 p.m

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