Starbuck @ Les Rendez Vous du Cinema Quebecois

starbuckWhen I first read about this film I was doubtful.  A movie about a man who is father to 533 kids.  Ridiculous!  I mean it sounded like something that Judd Apatow would be behind.  A ridiculous idea featuring crude jokes and men who never grow up.  After seeing it I have to amend my thoughts about it slightly.  It is a film about a man in his 40s who seems content at being and behaving like a teenager, but it also features several poignant moments about redemption and family.

David Wozniak (Patrick Huard – Funkytown, Bon Cop Bad Cop) is a 42-year-old who has never grown up.  He is content living his life working as a meat deliverer at his family butchery and occasionally seeing his police officer girlfriend, Valerie (Julie Le Breton – The Rocket, Maman Last Call).  Everything changes for him when he finds out that Valerie is pregnant and he is the father of 533 children.

Valerie is not sure that David is a suitable father for her baby.  David cannot even do properly the menial jobs his father and brothers give him and his in debt to a loan shark for $80,000.  As a result he has taken  to growing pot in his apartment to make some extra cash.  You can see where Valerie is coming from, right?

His whole outlook on life begins to change when he returns home to find a lawyer in his apartment, which is better than the heavies employed by the loan shark to collect the money owed.  The lawyer tells him that he represents 533 young people in a class action suit against the Clinic La France, a sperm bank that David used to make “donations” to.  Apparently David is the biological father to these 533 young people and they are suing to find out his identity.  Shocked, he tells the lawyer that he does not want his identity revealed.  Before leaving, the lawyer tells him that the anonymous father of these young people is known as Starbuck.

The temptation to not look at the dossiers of his kids that the lawyer left him is too much for David.  He begins to look at them and one by one meets his kids.  He does not tell them he is their father, but becomes a kind of guardian angel to them.  One is a struggling actor, one is a busking musician in the metro, one is a drug addict, and another is afflicted with cerebral palsy, in an institution and in a wheelchair.  David becomes attached to each of them.

His friend and single father of four young kids (Antoine Bertrand – from television’s Les Boys) has always advised him to never have kids.  He says that you lose any chance at freedom and spontaneity if you have kids.  Once he finds out that  David is father to 533 he tells him that he will be his lawyer in the fight to keep his identity a secret.

A nice combination of humour and poignant moments.  The poignant moments were completely unexpected by me and a result were quite effective.  I thought this was just going to be silly.  It wasn’t.  There is plenty of silly, but also a nice dose of emotion as well.  The silly moments are entertaining, no doubt, but what really seduces the viewer are the altruistic and touching ones.

The whole idea of how we see fathers is questioned by Ken Scott’s (Les Doigts Croches) film.  Fathers today are more involved in their kids’ lives and yet we still generally see them as distant figures who earn money and dole out the discipline.  Fathers today interact with their kids and films are beginning to reflect that.  The bond David has with his own father and that he forges with each of his biological children is an important part of the film.

Patrick Huard once again turns in a marvellous performance.  He is believable as the lovable loser and eternal teenager.  His David is immature and in debt up to his eyeballs.  As David transitions from eternal childhood to a man/father Huard handles it well.  He believably becomes a man who assumes his responsibilities and begins to have general affection for each of his children.  Huard portrays pride, hope and pain very realistically.

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