I went to see The Big Hit (Un triomphe) at the ByTowne on Saturday expecting a “feel good” film in the tradition of other workss about art uplifting the oppressed in a prison environment, especially since it’s based on a true story. What I saw was so much more. Yes, the six convicts gain things—self respect, self control, self confidence—during the rigorous training their director (a professional out-of-work actor) instills in them.
However, there’s so much more going on in this film, and a lot of it has to do with the very ambitious choice the director makes for their second theatrical production. He chooses one of the most challenging plays in the 20th century theatrical canon—Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It turns out this is the perfect choice for these guys who spend all their days and nights waiting—waiting to be let out of their cells, waiting for a letter, waiting for a visitor, waiting for the day to end, waiting for their sentences to end. And who frequently find life meaningless. As the director says, Beckett wrote this play for these guys.
Also, the director is more than a deus ex machina. He also grows, and something he says towards the end of the film may have you choking back tears.
I’ll never watch another production of Waiting for Godot without thinking of the guys in this film.
The Big Hit (Un triomphe) is at the ByTowne on Monday Dec.20 and Tuesday Dec.21. Visit bytowne.ca for tickets and more info.