The Guide to the Perfect Family sheds light on topics of discussion that eventually make their way under the carpet at home.
Directed by Ricardo Trogi, this French Canadian movie is terribly relatable in spite of being fiction. It makes one wonder if we’re suffocating children with multiple hobbies, classes, and unnecessary pressure in the name of giving them the very best in a society so obsessed with success and being picture-perfect. The Guide to the Perfect Family talks about panic attacks, drinking, drug abuse, anxiety, suicide, teen-parent relationships, the turmoil of a parent, the relationship between a couple, and accepting being average.
Cast – Emilie Bierre plays the role of Rose Dubois, a 17-year old girl struggling with an overbearing father and an absentee mother. Even though this movie tells the story of a father struggling to understand his daughter and what’s best for her, in a lot of ways this movie highlights the emotional turmoil of a teenager crying for help and feeling not good enough. Louis Morissette aka Martin Dubois does a great job of portraying the helplessness of a parent who isn’t sure how to get through to his child. He chases perfection over spending time with his family and making space for them to be themselves. We get to witness Martin’s journey from being an overbearing father whose first reaction is to pin the blame to someone who learns to slow down enough to listen to what his children need. (Catherine Chabot) Marie-Soleilis the modern wife trying to hold the fort down as a wife and mom. While she portrays the image of a happy family on social media, she’s burnt out, doing it all alone, and doesn’t have the emotional support she needs from her partner. (Isabelle Guérard) Caroline is the mother trying to parent from a distance. Depending on how far along you are in your life, you’ll be able to relate to one of these characters.
Watch the trailer here!
Storyline- This film begins with the disappointment and shame that Martin feels after his daughter, Rose is caught selling drugs for old tests so she can score A’s on each test. Martin takes this personally highlighting how we often feel like we’re doing a good job of raising our children better than our parents raised us, but fail to see what our children really need! Martin and Caroline are blissfully unaware of their own shortcomings because they’re so lost in the roles they play and all they do is pin the blame. Over the course of 1 hour 42 mins, we see the parents make an effort with Rose without really pausing to understand what she needs. This movie also has a brief encounter with therapy and counseling when the parents meet with a counselor to talk about their child, Rose. Their interaction with the counselor sounds like every parent who refuses to believe that they could be the reason.
What I liked – I love the concepts that are highlighted in this film. Like the communication gap between the parents and the child, the realistic portrayal of the relationship between a couple after they’ve had a child, and the helplessness that parents feel when they’re not sure how to maneuver their way through. Parents taking it personally when their children don’t perform or don’t turn out to be extensions of themselves, the shame they feel when their child fails, almost like this reflects on them as parents, this movie tackles complex situations we all face as children and some scenes show us how we wish we were treated and some feel like incidents we can relate to. So often, parents feel the burnout but don’t discuss it even with each other because how else can they maintain the facade of being perfect at everything they do? It’s such an authentic movie and that’s why I love it so much. In the last scene where Rose teaches her father when to let go, it’s beautiful because it says so much without saying anything at all. Her father allows himself to see things from a different perspective instead of assuming that he always knows better because he’s the father. This movie tells the story of a real parent, not a perfect one.
Originally shot in French, The Guide to the Perfect Family is dubbed in English and is available on Netflix.
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