9/01/2003 19:30.

Léo Lauzeau’s family are seriously weird, mad as snakes, the lot of them. Struggling to understand the strange events he witnesses, Léo creates a fantasy world that’s often even stranger. Will his fantasies protect him, or will he end up like the rest of them? A captivating, if sometimes disturbing, film.

To be introduced by Anne Miller of Leicester University

Canada 1992, 107 minutes

Programme Notes

All kids think their families are weird, but young Léo Lauzon’s really are. His father’s obsessed by the family bowel movements, his brother with body building, while his two sisters are frequent visitors to the local psychiatric ward. Mum holds the whole thing together, and once even saved Léo’s life when Grandpa tried to drown him. And that’s apart from the usual traumas of growing up. Who could blame Léo for inventing another identity, Léolo Lozone, with a more glamorous and less frightening life? He fills notebook after notebook with his fantasies, discarding each when full: they’re discovered by an academic who recognises the boy’s writing talent. But will this be enough to save Léolo, or will Léo, like the notebooks, be consigned to oblivion?

We see Léo’s world largely through his eyes and, like him, the film frequently blurs the lines between what’s real and what isn’t, creating a dream-like quality that’s moving and sometimes disturbing. It’s partly autobiographical, reflecting director Jean-Claude Lauzon’s own background, ostensibly a comedy, albeit a dark and sometimes scatological one, with some bleak and shocking images – definitely not for the delicate. It’s a very literary film, with references to Tennyson and a virtually plagiaristic one to Portnoy’s Complaint (yes, that scene!). It’s about life, and art, and how each creates the other. And of course it’s about Léolo, a strange, talented, scared, sometimes repugnant young boy living life against the odds.

Jean-Claude Lauzon spent his working life in the ‘ghetto within a ghetto’ of French language Canadian film, restricted by meagre budgets and a limited audience. He died in a plane crash in 1997, aged 42, leaving two major films, Léolo and Un Zoo la Nuit (Night Zoo). He was a passionate and visionary filmmaker who, like Léolo, might one day have produced something outstanding. If only…

Léolo – Maxime Collin
Mother – Ginette Reno
Grandfather – Julien Guiomar
Director, Screenplay – Jean-Claude Lauzon
Photography – Guy Defaux


  • Amazing, wonderful, mystifying
  • Much food for thought
  • First class (but) humour very hard to square with cruder Anglo-Saxon treatment of similar horrifying situations. Strong political message, asserting French cultural independence.
  • Visually stunning: some truly haunting images.
  • Superb photography and imagery (with) some larger than life characters. Also non-sequiturs – puzzling but perhaps OK in dreams.
  • Wonderful photography but what a weird film!
  • Thanks to Ann Miller for aiding (my) comprehension of some of the film.
  • Too ‘bitty’ to be satisfying
  • Rather meandering and overlong: more Gunther Grass than Proust
  • Could have been called Familie Grotesque or Dreams and Delusions of My Puberty…
  • I have absolutely no idea what I thought about this !!


A:9, B:10, C:10, D:3, E:0 to give 70%