The documentary film Holy Tour (La Grande Messe) is a gentle and amusing visit with some Tour de France fans who are waiting for the cyclists in the 2017 edition of the race to flash by. They set up a roadside camp almost two weeks before at Col d’Izoard (Izoard Pass) in the French Alps, where the scenery is the scenery is stunning.
Most of the fans are long-married couples who have been following the tour for years, some for decades. They seem old enough to be retired, but then again, France has very generous vacations, so who knows? These fans are comfortably ensconced in recreational vehicles, not roughing it in tents, as the last-minute arrivals will do. (“They look like us, back in the day,” a man tells his wife with a smile. That’s an approximate quote, from my memory.)
The fans are a relaxed, friendly, funny bunch and they pass the days before the Tour arrives with walks, sunbathing, playing cards, reading, chatting, cuddling small dogs, and eating. One man cycles uphill to a scenic restaurant to have a birthday meal. We laugh with them, not at them, as they wonder if it is too early for an aperitif, and struggle to pick up a TV signal, so they can follow the race as it heads their way.
Certainly, there are worse ways a person could spend a vacation. When Holy Tour is over, you might feel light-hearted and relaxed, as if you, too, had just enjoyed some fresh air and camaraderie.
Holy Tour (La Grande Messe)
Directed by: Méryl Fortunat-Rossi and Valéry Rosier
Length: 70 minutes
Languages: In French with English subtitles
You can see it: Saturday October 13, 2018 at 13:15
Cineplex Odeon Quartier Salle 17
350 rue Emery, Montréal, QC, H2X 1J1
Holy Tour (La Grande Messe) is part of the Festival du nouveau cinéma, which continues until Sunday, Oct.14, 2018.