Kingston Canadian Film Festival: Norbourg Review

Based on the events that led to the infamous financial scandal which rocked Quebec in 2005, Maxime Giroux’s Norbourg is a gripping drama about the dangers that can occur when greed and nationalism mix. The film tells the story of Vincent Lacroix (François Arnaud), the founder of the investment firm Norbourg Financial Group, which was was on the brink of bankruptcy. Taking advantage of the Quebec government’s desire for a national identity through homegrown businesses, and a loophole in the system, the company was able to get a million-dollar government bailout with very little oversight.

Although the company’s questionable business practices raised eyebrows, the addition of Lacroix’s acquaintance Éric Asselin (Vincent-Guillaume Otis) as vice-president was a game changer for the firm. Formerly with the Quebec Securities Commission, where he was tasked with opening an investigation into Lacroix’s business, Asselin used his knowledge to help Norbourg circumvent rules and keep his old bosses at bay. Swindling prominent organizations and everyday investors, 9,200 of which lost their life savings, the company embezzled over $130 million in the largest Canadian financial scandal in history.

Unlike films such as The Wolf of Wall Street and Boiler Room, which revel in the excess of fast money, Norbourg is more concerned with detailing the deceptive ways in which Lacroix and Asselin pulled the rug out from under investigators, often doing it in real time. Unfolding with the crackling tension of All the President’s Men, Giroux’s film shines a light on the numerous ways financial institutions and governments failed investors who were trying to save for their family’s future. Through scenes involving a grandfather tasked with overseeing his orphaned granddaughter’s inheritance, the film frequently reminds viewers of the human element at stake. A riveting and tightly constructed drama, Norbourg effectively captures how the lack of proper financial checks and balances, along with the lure of fast money, can lead to disastrous results.

Norbourg screened at the 2023 Kingston Canadian Film Festival.