Ricardo Trogi’s 2002 directorial debut, “Québec- Montréal”, struck a chord with audiences, critics and the Jutra awards. Me? Hated it. I thought it was both pretentious and juvenile, promising great insights into relationships but delivering little more than the kind of jokey platitudes that have made Peter MacLeod and other local stand-up comedians inexplicably successful.
Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting much from follow-up “Horloge Biologique”, which has Trogi and co-writers Patrice Robitaille and Jean-Philippe Pearson further exploring what makes men and women tick. In their previous screenplay, the catalyst was driving from Québec to Montréal; this time, it’s procreation. Sébastien (Pearson) and Justine (Julie Perreault) are raising a six month old, Paul (Pierre-François Legendre) and Isabelle (Catherine Proulx-Lemay) are expecting their first child and, while Fred (Robitaille) doesn’t feel ready to be a father, his girlfriend Marie (Geneviève Alarie) wants to stop taking the pill and have kids sooner rather than later.
Right from the opening scene, which recalls the Dawn of Man prologue from “2001: A Space Odyssey”, you can see that Trogi is feeling more confident and ambitious behind the camera. There were also fantasy sequences in “Québec-Montréal”, but they’re much better handled here, adding to the storytelling instead of just being gimmicks. Paul’s daydreams about other women are particularly amusing, and I also liked the infomercial spoofs Sébastien watches when he’s up all night with the baby.
The movie’s got a great soundtrack of ‘80s pop (Foreigner, Tears for Fears, Talk Talk), which is consistent with the film’s thematic content as well – it’s not mere nostalgia, it reflects the male characters’ arrested development. They are all struggling with the idea of growing older, settling down and becoming parents. They’re still desperately clinging to their youth, playing baseball with the guys, carelessly getting drunk, hitting on young girls in bars (including the stunningly gorgeous Karen Elkin) and dancing to the same songs they did 15 years ago.
“Horloge Biologique” is still not as clever as the filmmakers think it is, but Trogi shows much improvement as a director and his sophomore effort will entertain both “Québec-Montréal” fans and detractors.