Some folks aren’t too crazy over Haitian movies made in Canada. Me? I actually find some of them likeable…like Wilfort Estimable’s Gason Makoklen trilogy. Initially, I bought the first two for my grandmother, but once I actually sat down and watched them with her, I actually found it to be quite interesting. The thing about watching these Haitian movies made in Canada, is that you get to view what life is like for the Haitian immigrants in non-US communities.
Apparently, Canadian-Haitians are more upwardly mobile than Haitians living in France, if they have a bubbling little movie industry there…mostly thanks to Jean-Claude Fayolle, Jean-Rony Lubin, Jean-Alix Homand, and of course Estimable himself. And apparently, the problems that the Haitian community is facing in Montreal, are not unlike the ones that are being endured say, in Brooklyn, Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Patterson, and so on.
The Gason Makoklen film series begins with Mercidieu Lebrun (Peterson Mead), a tacky and despicable taxi driver who lives in Montreal, who pretty much thinks that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and that she can wonder around in the bedroom too, but only for the pleasure of her husband. His wife Jésula (Benita Jacques) is still in Haiti, though her documents are in route to have her come join him. In the meantime however, he tries to recruit a lover-lackey. But the candidates are far from fulfilling the doormat/pushover interim partner that Mercidieu is seeking, so Mercidieu resigns himself to waiting on Canadian immigration red tape.
Then deliverance comes…Jésula is finally granted documents to enter Montreal. Jésula is slightly disillusioned by what she sees. So that luxury car that her husband was leaning on in a photo that he had once sent back home, was merely a prop…and never belonged to him? Sidenote: How the Diaspora enjoys selling the overseas dream to their relatives back in Haiti, misleading them into believing that life is so grand in the United States of America and Canada, and that everyone is hopelessly wealthy and balling.
For a while, Jésula is the homebody, doormat of a wife. Mercidieu has carefully orchestrated things so that Jésula doesn’t communicate with the outside world. There’s no landline phone, no cell phone, heck no sign of modernity in the house, and, therefore as Mercidieu wishes it, no intellectual light coming in to influence his wife. Under the tutelage of Andreanne (1-800-Andreanne) , a neighbor in the same apartment complex, Jésula becomes more assertive in her relationship with husband Mercidieu, making the latter’s worst case scenarios come true. No more daily, freshly-cooked meals, no more field hand slave dressing habits…hah, the Jésula of times past gone. Poof! Andreanne (Myriame Jean) represents the hard-boiled feminist. She takes no crap from her husband Ti Wil (Wilfort Estimable) and coaches Jésula to do the same.
What can one say about the cast? Let’s start with Myriame Jean, who, throughout the trilogy, proves herself to be quite an adept comedienne. Jean’s Andreanne is sassy-mouthed, tenacious, and would have been perfect on a panel of Third World feminists at a Ms. Magazine seminar. Estimable is also the film’s director, so thank goodness he chose to play the secondary character Ti Wil, as opposed to Mercidieu, the lead male character. It’s rarely effective when a director chooses to carry many hats. In this case, we would have missed of the actor who plays Mercidieu. His acting is very consistent, not to mention credible. Benita Jacques, another gem in the rough, is a joy to watch, as she transforms from the naïve little hermit wife to a skin-baring, weave-sporting, fashion-obsessed, take-no-mess hot mama.
Gason Makoklen 2 and Gason Makoklen 3 continues the entire saga of the battle of the sexes. But who will win? Or are there no winners? Haitian women have been taken for granted for quite some time. They’ve been stepped on so much, the corns have spread to their ankles. Abused, cheated on, neglected, demoralized, degraded, and grossly taken for granted. But is anarchy in the home the answer? One of the things that the movie preaches is how important it is for both genders to compromise. Perhaps that’s the only solution.