Cartoonist-filmmaker, Pascal Rabaté returns with Patchwork Family, a new family comedy about the power of love. That may sound corny, but that is literally what this movie is all about. It stars Sami Bouajila as Christian, a devoted single father, unethical pest exterminator and serial womanizer.
From the beginning, Christian’s love for his daughter, Vanessa, is apparent. He wants nothing more than to always see her happy and goes out of his way to see her smile, including splurging on a costume for her beloved baton-twirling performances. When he finds himself being spurned by Vanessa because of his refusal to take part in the local summer triathlon, Christian sacrifices his own stubbornness to, once again, make Vanessa smile.
Through Vanessa’s baton-twirling classes, Christian meets Christiane, a pregnant and single mother of one of Vanessa’s teammates, Alizee. As Vanessa and Alizee’s friendship blossoms, so does a romance between Christian and Christiane, setting them on their way to becoming a quirky little patchwork family. His love for these women inspires Christian to forget his immoral ways and work on becoming a stand-up guy. But when his past catches up with him, everything he’s worked for is at risk.
The three women in the movie–Christiane, Vanessa and Alizee–are worth noting since they are really the reason for everything that happens. They unknowingly drive the plot of the film since everything Christian does is for or because of one or all of these females. They are almost his backbone, but are never realized for their necessity.
Christiane is working full-time and raising a teenage daughter alone while four months pregnant. Her partner has left her because he didn’t want the baby and, though she is demure and shy in her speech, she proves herself one of the strongest charters in the film from her actions. It is she who kisses Christian first, after weeks of bubbling sexual chemistry that has Christian afraid to make a move because he thinks she deserves better. Taking the initiative, Christiane boldly shows him that she is more than capable of deciding what she does and does not deserve.
Though only a teenager, Vanessa is spunky and no-nonsense when it comes to her life. She’s not afraid of her slew of teenage emotions and, while she is devoted to her father as much as he is to her, she isn’t afraid to tell him when he has disappointed her. Meanwhile, Alizee is quiet and sensitive. When Alizee accidentally messes up a routine, she becomes morbidly embarrassed and is driven to tears. It’s Christian who swoops in and reminds her that participating is what counts and Alizee subtly reminds him of this throughout the movie, especially when he has doubts about his ability to succeed in the triathlon.
Patchwork Family is so endearing and so lovely that it’s hard to find anything negative to say about it. With well-fleshed out characters and an honest, simple and optimistic (albeit predictable) storyline, it’s one of those movies that makes you want to run and give your loved ones a huge hug.
Sarah is covering the Cinéfranco International Film Festival, which runs from April 10 to 19 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto. See more coverage here.