Cape Breton comes to Cannes

Laura Jean Grant, The Cape Breton Post
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Lesley Crewe's 'Relative Happiness' now a feature film

HOMEVILLE — Characters a Cape Breton author imagined more than a decade ago will come to life on the big screen.

Melissa Bergland and Jonathan Sousa in a scene from "Relative Happiness," a film based on the book by Cape Breton author Lesley Crewe.

“Relative Happiness,” a feature film based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Lesley Crewe, will have its world premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France. It's part of Perspective Canada-Cannes, a Telefilm Canada initiative that showcases recent Canadian films at Cannes.

"It's unbelievable," said Crewe, at her home in Homeville. "Here's this little film that's based on the book that I wrote in my basement and now it's over in France, so anything can happen."

The author behind several best-selling novels, Crewe said that in the process of writing a book the characters she develops become like friends — and in the case of "Relative Happiness" it's been exciting to see the story of those friends told in a new way.

"It was beautiful that they were in a book and people enjoyed it, but now somebody else has taken them and now I can see them and it sort of validates what I do and what I did with that first story," she said. "It's a pleasure to see these characters brought to life in another medium."

Crewe, who co-wrote the screenplay for the film, said she's pleased the filmmakers behind "Relative Happiness" were able to capture the spirit of her story as well as the Cape Breton setting of the book.

"That's what I think I'm so happy with — it looks like it's authentic Maritime. The story is universal but you can really tell that this is in our part of the world," she said.

Crewe, who also makes a cameo in the film as a partygoer, visited the set of "Relative Happiness" during filming last year in Hubbards, N.S.

"It was just exciting to see all these people that I'd made up just wandering around, and people working on this film, employing a lot of people," she said.

Produced by Wreckhouse Productions and Lady Hammond Entertainment, the film is directed by Newfoundland filmmaker Deanne Foley and stars Australian actress Melissa Bergland in the lead role of Lexie, a plus-sized, 30-year-old owner of a bed and breakfast who is convinced she’ll fulfill her dream of a perfect romance when Mr. Right lands on her doorstep.

"The instant I saw (Bergland) I knew that she was perfect because she isn't the stereotypical Hollywood star. She's normal and that's what we needed for that character," said Crewe.

The Cannes Film Festival got underway May 14 and runs until May 25. "Relative Happiness" screens today — one of 16 Canadian films to be showcased as part of Perspective Canada-Cannes.

"They're not being judged, they're just being shown, but it's an amazing opportunity because you have like 10,000 movie buyers and people in the industry that get to see it," said Crewe.

Following its premiere, "Relative Happiness" is expected to make the rounds of Canadian and international film festival circuits this fall. It is due to be officially released next year.

Often asked if having her book turned into a film is a dream come true, Crewe said that in all honesty she never dreamed that big.

"This is way more than I ever, ever expected," she said. "It's really very exciting. This book has given me a lot of exciting moments over the years. I'm just really proud."

Organizations: Perspective Canada-Cannes, Telefilm Canada

Geographic location: Cannes, Cape Breton, France Homeville Hubbards Newfoundland Hollywood

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