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Paul Schrader’s Oh, Canada: 5 reasons to be excited

The outlines of Jacob Elordi, Uma Thurman and Richard Gere and a maple leaf featured on the poster for Paul Schrader's film Oh, Canada

Oh, Canada, the newest film by Paul Schrader, will come out in May 2024. Here are 5 reasons to be excited for the movie!

Paul Schrader’s latest project, Oh, Canada is an exciting upcoming drama, to say the least. Premiering at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in May 2024, the film will focus on a documentary filmmaker as he looks back on his tormented life in a final interview to free himself of all his secrets once and for all.  Despite the little we know about it, the movie is already one of our most anticipated films of the year! But what makes it so exciting? Read our 5 reasons to be excited about it!

1. The Cast of Oh, Canada

The cast of the film includes both new and familiar faces that movie fans will be undoubtedly excited about. Jacob Elordi will play a young Leonard Fife in his next acting project after a successful year for his career, with Saltburn, Priscillaand a nomination to the BAFTA Rising Star Awards in 2024. Oh, Canada will also feature established Hollywood stars that many people in the audience will know and love, namely Richard Gere, who will play protagonist Leonard Fife, and Uma Thurman as Emma. Interestingly, the filmwill reunite Schrader with Gere after they first worked together in American Gigolo in 1980, marking the second collaboration between the exciting pair. 

Jacob Elordi, one of the 5 reasons to be excited about Paul Schrader's film Oh, Canada, wears a flannel shirt and holds a video camera in a still from the movie
Paul Schrader’s Oh, Canada: 5 reasons to be excited – Jacob Elordi on the set of the movie (Oh Canada LLC)

2. The Story of Oh, Canada

Oh, Canada is based on a 2021 novel by acclaimed American writer Russell Banks, called “Foregone.”  This is not the first time Schrader adapts one of Banks’ books, as he previously wrote and directed Affliction, based on Banks’ novel of the same name, in 1997. From what we know so far, the plot of the movie sounds fascinating. Leonard Fife, now in his seventies and dying of cancer, agrees to an interview to at last reveal the secrets of his mythologized life. Fife’s story is particularly interesting as, in the film, he is one of the sixty thousand men who deserted and evaded the draft by fleeing to Canada in order to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.  

3. Director Paul Schrader

During his long and successful career, which includes some of the most famous films of the last few decades, the filmmaker wrote and directed the aforementioned American Gigolo, wrote the screenplay to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and co-wrote three more Scorsese films: The Last Temptation of Christ, Raging Bull, and Bringing Out the Dead. In the 2010s, he wrote and directed the acclaimed Man in a Room Trilogy: First Reformed (2017), The Card Counter (2021), and Master Gardener (2023).

In a career that spans over forty years, Schrader has become heavily associated with American auteur cinema. While he may be more prolific than some of his peers who are also returning to Cannes this year – namely, Francis Ford Coppola with Megalopolis – it is incredibly exciting to know that such an accomplished and esteemed filmmaker will have a new film out this year. In the making of Oh, Canada, Schrader also collaborated and corresponded with Banks until his passing in January 2023, which only shows his commitment to the movie and respect for the source material. 

4. The Production of Oh, Canada

As many cinephiles will know, the combined WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike virtually put a stop to the film industry in the second half of 2023, which led to many film productions and release dates being delayed. However, not every film had to stop its production: Oh, Canada is an example of this. The film received a SAG-AFTRA exemption and was, therefore, able to begin filming in September 2023 despite the ongoing strikes in the industry. And of course, the fact that the movie has been selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and already has a French distributor – ARP picked up the French rights to the project – also makes it an even more anticipated release. 

Richard Gere and Uma Thurman, two of the 5 reasons to be excited about Paul Schrader's film Oh, Canada, stand in front of a red wall talking to someone in a still from the movie
Paul Schrader’s Oh, Canada: 5 reasons to be excited – A photo from the set (Oh Canada LLC)

5. The Canada Metaphor 

As evident from its title, Oh, Canada is set in Canada, which will most likely become a lot more than its setting. Schrader talked about Canada being a metaphor for death in the film: this adds a new layer to the overall plot and the character of Fife. This is inevitably tied to the director’s own experience, as Schrader was struggling with respiratory issues during COVID-19 and has been to the hospital multiple times when writing the screenplay. He also talked about how he was fixated on the idea of making a film about dying at the time. 

Admittedly, there is still much we don’t know about the film, with little to no promotional material or trailer for it yet, but Oh, Canada already sounds intriguing, and perhaps one of the most exciting releases from the Cannes Film Festival. I can’t wait to see Oh, Canada in cinemas and the initial reactions that will inevitably follow its premiere in Cannes next month. 

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