Marcel Lévesque is a dapper, silver-haired, silver-tongued car salesman. Perennially anointed “Salesman of the Month” at his dealership, he takes great satisfaction in the ritual of persuasion. Selling is his calling and preoccupation—that and watching over his beloved daughter and grandson provide his sole raisons d’être. But in the humble working-class town of Lac Saint-Jean, Québec, where the impending paper plant closure is immobilizing the economy, car buying seems utterly absurd. As more men are laid off, precariousness and flux swoop into Marcel’s life, too, and he must come to terms with the consequences of his obsession.
An astonishingly assured first feature, “The Salesman” elegantly applies restraint and precision to mount subtle, quotidian moments into an emotionally crushing story. A heartbreaking, exacting performance by Gilbert Sicotte, one of French Canada’s greatest actors, becomes the exquisite engine driving forward this meditation on our need for safety and routine in the face of life’s inevitable instability. [Synopsis courtesy of the Sundance Institute]