As the opening film of the Fantasia Film Festival and one that is representing Quebec there was plenty of pressure and expectations heaped on King Dave. While it is in no way the best film that you are going to see this year it will resonate. It’s simple message of staying true to yourself and not pretending to be something you are not certainly hits home.
The film is an adaptation of a play from 2005 by Alexandre Goyette, who plays Dave in the film. On stage it was a one man show and the film is not much different. To keep that play feel about it director Daniel Grou (L’affaire Dumont, Miraculum) or Podz as he is known has filmed it in one continuous shot with no interruptions. Demanding much of it lead actor Goyette as he has plenty of lines and is in every scene.
Dave Morin (Alexandre Goyette – Mommy, Laurence Anyways) is a guy who is always on the move. That is something to say about a guy who lives in a small apartment, has no education and works at a depanneur. If you scratch the surface of his life then you see there is much more to this guy.
You see that after spending a couple of days with Dave. He is a man who has not really grown up and is still a child in many ways. A boy in a man’s body. With his jeans, white t-shirt,hoodie, and cigarette behind his ear he might look like trouble, but isn’t really. Though it always seems to find him.
For example, he goes to a party in which he really doesn’t know anyone and his mouth ends up getting him in trouble. He leaves the party having to steal some car radios in three days for a gang leader. Dave has a girlfriend named Nathalie (Karelle Tremblay – appeared in an episode of 19-2) and one night at a club he sees her with another guy. She tells Dave he is overreacting, but all hell breaks loose when he sees them together on the dance floor with the guy’s hand on her ass.
After he loses his temper, one thing leads to another and now his life is headed in a downward spiral. What follows is violence, heartbreak, betrayal, and something that is going to change his life forever.
Films in one continuous shot have been done before like Birdman by Alejandro Inarritu or Timecode by Mike Figgis or Rope by Alfred Hitchcock. Few have been attempted on the small budget that Daniel Grou had to work with or not using the technique to preserve time. In the end, his lack of money works for him as it really draws you in to the actor and what he is saying as being distracted by what is going on around him. The long soliloquy that the motormouth Dave undertakes is paramount. The one shot technique makes you think it is happening over one day, but in actuality it is ten days and nights. It flashes forwards and backwards several times.
Though he gets involved in plenty of trouble and even eventually violence, throughout the film you never think of Dave as a bad guy. He just puts himself in bad situations. For self-preservation he pretends to be tougher than he is. It is just a reality of the area he lives in. We don’t have to identify with Dave to appreciate the film we just have to be aware of him. Know people like him in order to understand what pushes him towards the things he lives through. Goyette does a fantastic job becoming this man-child and inhabiting the skin of his character.
We see how bad decisions lead to more bad decisions. It becomes a circle of violence that the person involved in cannot extract themselves from. Dave sees himself through the lens of how society sees him. He cannot possibly live up to it. Dave loses himself while pretending. Being a King is not a simple task.