As I look back, possibly director/screenwriter Ricardo Trogi’s (1981, Québec-Montréal) film 1987 was my favourite Quebec made film of 2014. It had a totally nostalgic feel about it because I am pretty much the same age as the lead character (who I presume is based upon Ricardo Trogi’s own experiences) and lived a very similar version of his life. A lot of the humour and situations were like they were done expressly for me with a wink and a nudge. Being a teenager during the 80s was an interesting experience to say the least.
High school experiences have been done time and time again in films like American Pie, American Graffiti and 10 Things I Hate About You. It is a time when teenagers graduate from high school and are on the cusp of being adults. Most try to grow up before they are ready or able to with thoughts of jobs, sex, drinking, cars, and going to bars. As a result the emotions are heightened and everything (to the teenagers) seems like of paramount importance. This makes for good film watching for the viewers.
The year is 1987 and in Quebec City, Ricardo (Jean-Carl Boucher – Un été sans points ni coups sûr, 1981) is 17-years-old, graduating from high school and thinking plenty about the upcoming summer. He has high goals for the summer: he wants to sleep with his girlfriend and get into a bar with his friends. These two things will take up every waking moment for the teenager. His girlfriend Marie-Josée (Éléonore Lamothe – Erased) puts a spoke in his wheel in regards to losing his virginity in that she wants to make sure he is love with her before she’ll consent to sleeping with him.
Again things are mucked up in regards to his plans a little as his parents want Ricardo to get a summer job. He is not interested in working in the least. To kill a couple of birds with one stone he comes up with the idea of opening a club for teens aged 14 to 18. One problem with the plan though is the fact that he has no money. To solve this problem he decides to mine his Italian heritage and to become the head of the mafia in Sainte-Foy. Being a reseller of stolen car radios is how he plans to make this happen.
With this film and its predecessor, 1981, Ricardo Trogi benefits from solid acting from his young cast and demonstrates his talent at writing good dialogue. This film and its story is from moment one a very personal one for the director. You can tell that he lived every moment of it. There is a level of humour and intelligence in it that you don’t often find in film.
The 80s were a very particular time with fashion being dominated by neon clothes, shoulder pads, big hair and ripped jeans, tons of one hit wonders, synthesizers and the introduction of the video channel MTV in music, big population explosion, technology really beginning to be a part of everyday life via computers and video games, and the introduction of smaller cars. Trogi really manages to bring this decade back to life with the amount of realism in 1987. All the little details like sets, wardrobe and music were thought of that allowed the viewer to immerse themselves in the time.
Though at first glance you might dismiss this film as a teenage fluff comedy, but there are other ingredients within. The whole father-son relationship is looked at. With the son not wanting to turn out like his father especially when it comes to his career choices. It is the moments like these within a film that is essentially a comedy that add an added depth to the whole thing. It manages to be funny and touching at the same time.