30th Jun2011

’5150 Elm’s Way’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Marc-André Grondin, Normand D’Amour, Sonia Vachon | Written by Patrick Senécal | Directed by Éric Tessier

Chess is a game of war. It’s a battle of strategies where only one side can win. What happens when chess becomes an obsession, a means to even argue the right to kill all because of a game that must always be won? What will that obsession do to your life? That is the question posed in 5150 Elm’s Way.

Yannick Bérubé is just a nice guy who falls off his bike on the wrong street. Knocking on a door to try getting help he finds himself dragged into a world of kidnap, torture, insanity, murder and above all chess. He is imprisoned by Jacques Beaulieu who prides himself on his unbeaten run as chess champion. Jacques has a secret though, and that is he’s a killer. The rules of his killing are all based on chess. He is the white “just” side, everything he does is right, the killers are the unjust. What Jacques does in his life is all based on the idea that he is helping society in his war that he rages both on and off the chess board.

What Jacques does not realise is that he is ripping his family apart. Michelle his oldest daughter is his protégé but unlike him is more sadistic in her approach to the victims. She is chastised many times for her attacks on Yannik as her motives are “unjust” and violence should always have a reason. This of course links back to the idea that the events in the movie are all moves on a chess board. Everything happens for a reason and no move must be wasted. The youngest daughter is also affected by the events around her, and personally I find her the creepiest of the characters. She is the most truly unstable of the family and shows what an effect living in the family is having on her; she is probably the deadliest of the entire family.

Yannick though is the centre point of this movie. He goes from innocent man trying to get help after being injured to being a prisoner to the obsession of the dysfunctional family. His progress goes from tortured captive to somebody just as obsessed with chess as Jacques. The movie is a battle of wills to see who will actually win the final game. The conclusion is explosive and features many twists for all the characters leading to a pretty twisted affair where the order of the day is who will survive with their sanity and the lives. Yannick only has to win one chess game to be free Jacques refuses to lose in either game or his crusade to kill the unjust.

5150 Elm’s Way is a psychological thriller at its best. We have obsession, twisted games, torture and death. The storyline mirrors the games of chess as Yannick and Jacques both fight for the dominance of the events within the house. As Yannick gains control Jacques starts to lose his sanity, but when Yannick starts to lose domination Jacques is again the one to regain control.

Once you realise that the movie is a game of dominance then you truly understand what is happening between the characters. That is the beauty of the story. Each character is a chess piece. These chess pieces are used by both Jaques and Yannick and we witness the family fall apart as his obsession with winning the game becomes deeper for both men. Both men are willing to lose everything and everybody around them just to carry on his games. In the end that is truly all they seem to have now.

I personally really enjoyed this game. I’m not an avid chess player but I understand the rules and what it takes to complete a game. I lose them mostly but the point is I understand the rules. The fight for dominance in the movie really pulled me in as you see the obsessions growing; you know what is going to happen without it actually being predictable because it is what the characters have become. That is because it is a well written story, in these type of stories predictability can be a good thing as you predict what a character will do because of his past actions, not because you’ve seen it a few too many times in other movies. I found this movie to be quite surprising as I’ve never heard of it before but I’m glad I got to review it, it will be a movie that I will probably re-watch quite a few times to fully understand the characters themselves and to enjoy what is a very good movie. There are quite a few subplots that I would like to re-examine, with different members of the family.

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