This moving biopic is the story of Louis Cyr, who at one time was the strongest man in the world. Cyr, played by Antoine Bertrand, is a shy, illiterate French Canadian hero who proved his impressive strength by lifting up a giant rock during a fight. From there Cyr decides to show off his talents with the circus to make more money then he was getting at the textile mill he was working at. “Louis Cyr: The Strongest Man in the World” tells the inspiring story of a man who went through the fame and glory of being the strongest, to the end of his life where we see him struggle to keep the title he had worked so hard for. We also get to see a touching love story between Cyr and his wife as well as experience his relationship with his daughter. This is a 20th century biopic you do not want to miss.
A Canadian Creation
I was able to see “Louis Cyr” in the place it was created, Quebec. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to understand the movie because it is originally in French, and lucky for me, much of the movie was in English with French subtitles The acting was so brilliantly done I could understand everything that was happening despite a slight language barrier. Overall, this movie is beautifully done. It is a very touching human story, historically interesting and aesthetically intriguing.
Louis Cyr is from a small town called St-Jean-de-Matha (which has experienced a boom in tourism after the film was released!) with his wife, Mélina Comptois Cyr (Rose-Maïté Erkoreka). He started by working with a small town promoter to show off his great strength, later to go to Montreal where he eventually attracted the eye of a large American promoter, Richard Kyle Fox (Gil Bellows). Fox then brought Cyr to England to challenge the so-called strongest man in the world at the time. We get to see Cyr perform the greatest of strengths during these scenes with the promoters like lift a platform with multiple men standing on it, it is very enteraining and in many moments, suspenseful.
Rooting for the Shy Guy
One of the main reasons I enjoyed this movie is because of Antoine Bertrand. He depicted a character that to his core was an underdog. This story of determination and strength (literally) was not cheesy or a cliché like most films to attempt these emotions fall prey to. His relationship to his wife, Mélina, also impressed me. There were a lot of moments that did not need words to help the audience understand the scene. Husband and wife seemed to know what the other was thinking in a very honest and beautiful way. We also discover his greatest weakness- his illiteracy. The audience is touched by his silent struggle to hide his inability to read. This made him value education above all else. This made his daughter look up to him and who wanted nothing else but to be strong, just like her father. It was refreshing to see a movie that didn’t remind me of a lame love song or a hallmark card.
Directing at its finest
My favourite scene is at the very end of the movie. Louis Cyr attempts to do a final act as a strong man by holding, in each arm, handles attached to horses fighting against him in either direction, which was the ultimate test of strength and will power. Not only is this scene incredibly emotional because it’s too much for the aging Cyr to handle, but director, Daniel Roby created an unbelievably beautiful work of art in that shot. The movement of the black horses are shot in close proximity, the pulling of the ropes and Cyr struggling to stay strong all in dramatic slow motion, is what makes it one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen on film.
“Louis Cyr: The Strongest Man in the World” is touching and honest. Even if historical biopics don’t normally interest you, “Louis Cyr” is an interesting look into a different time and life of a relatively unheard-of Canadian hero who reached his greatest achievement. You do not want to miss this.