Montréal Girls

Serpent’s Lullaby writer/director Patricia Chica, who has always been busy with making short films and music videos, completes an effortless transition to feature-length storytelling with her debut Montréal Girls, an affable vehicle for herself and her breakout leads.  The movie pushes past its familiarity with notes of magic realism and method acting.  The results are impressive, though the story still rings some bells.

Ramy (Hakim Brahimi) has been assigned aspirations to have a career in a medical field but, secretly and passionately, he wants to be a poet.  Despite how noodly his poetry sounds to movie goers (which would be a difficult task for any writer/director to avoid), Chica more than suggests that the med student has a creative voice and a knack for expressing himself despite feeling oppressed at home.  When he moves to Montréal to pursue an education, Ramy meets a collection of colourful characters (including two enchanting women named Yaz and Desiree) who help inspire him to refocus on his own needs and push his own boundaries for happiness.

Though most of the beats of this coming-of-age tale are predictable, the mechanics behind the storytelling elevate the movie.  Brahimi brings warmth to a role that’s usually (and heavy-handedly) built from high-strung traits.  Ramy’s confidence takes some hits but his integrity, which Brahimi interprets well, keeps audiences rooting for him.  Jasmina Parent and Sana Asad also give commendable performances, extending their charming influences from the shadow of their male co-lead.

Montréal Girls also succeeds because of the extra developmental process Chica applied with her production.  The press notes indicate that Montréal Girls is “the first feature film made with Chi Energy”.  As an experienced and qualified Chi Energy Educator and Coach, Chica assisted her cast with gaining “a higher consciousness to expand their creative potential and accelerate their results”.  Y’know, I buy that this approach helped Montréal Girls find another level of zen;  at least with the leading performances.  An essence is engaged when Ramy is discovering new places and people.  At times, the movie feels dreamlike with its purposeful wandering;  benefiting Ramy’s self-discovery and how his presence affects newcomers around him. 

Montréal Girls, hopefully, has encouraged Patricia Chica to keep making feature films; especially with her Chi Energy method.  If this is how Chica approaches an intimate drama, imagine what she could do with a bigger opportunity.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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