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Fish Tale Soup

Annette Mangaard's feature debut "Fish Tale Soup" is a largely ineffective attempt to deliver a whimsical comedy where the whimsy is forced and the laughs few and far between. Strange pic is unlikely to appeal to the arthouse crowd it is clearly targeting, and a combo of dodgy acting, weak scripting, and low-fi production values will ensure that few outside Canada will cast a rod for this film, which had a short run in Toronto in the fall and an equally brief stay on Montreal screens in early February. Vivi (Kathleen Laskey), in the midst of a major midlife crisis, bumps into bizarre refugee Markus (Remy Girard), who begs her to help him out. She tries to get rid of him, but Markus follows her home, where her husband Paul (John Jarvis) takes pity on the guy and agrees to let him stay until he finds his feet. Vivi and Paul are both quite curious about where Markus is from, but the enigmatic immigrant, who has an accent that falls somewhere between Eastern European and French-Canadian, is not forthcoming.

With:
Vivi......Kathleen Laskey Paul.....John Jarvis Markus......Remy Girard

Vivi, at age 39, desperately wants to have a child, and is consulting a fertility specialist, even though her obsession with her ticking biological clock has begun to put a damper on sexual relations with Paul, who isn’t so keen on starting a family. Paul has his own problems, mainly related to his job teaching music therapy classes for handicapped kids. Another plot sideline involves Vivi’s job at the local animal pound, where she is forced to put down sad-looking stray cats, dogs, and rabbits.

This unlikely modern-day fertility fairy tale becomes more flighty as it progresses, as it becomes clear that Markus is some kind of angel put on Earth to help out childless parents.

Characters are sketched only in the broadest strokes and Mangaard shows little sense of either comic delivery or dramatic build-up. Laskey manages to elicit some sympathy with her portrayal of the frustrated would-be mother, but Jarvis is particularly weak and Girard just looks confused.

Pic showcases some interesting art direction, with a funky, arty decor in the couple’s apartment. Other tech credits are just OK.

Fish Tale Soup

Canadian

Production: A Film Tonic release (in Canada) of a Three Blondes/Actuality Films production, with the participation of the National Film Board of Canada and in association with CITY-TV, the Cable Production Fund, Rogers Telefund, the Ontario Film Development Corp., and the Fund for Pay Television. (International sales: Film Tonic Intl., Montreal.) Produced by Pamela Davenport. Co-producers, Annette Mangaard, Silva Basmajian. Directed, written by Annette Mangaard.

Crew: Camera (color), Philip Earnshaw; editor, Boyd Bonitzke; music, David Bradstreet; art direction, Bill Layton. Reviewed at the Centreville Cinema, Montreal, Feb. 2, 1997. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: Vivi......Kathleen Laskey Paul.....John Jarvis Markus......Remy GirardAlso with: Patric Masurkevitch, Michele Muzzi, Dax Adam, David Cole, Maria Syrgiannis, Carlos D. Rota, Raquel Santos, Daniel Santos, Shelley Hong, Carlton Watson, Dawn Greenhalgh, Michael Tait, Jennifer Podemski.

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