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Heads or Tails

The vet Quebec team of director Claude Fournier and producer Marie-Jose Raymond are back on the bigscreen after a long absence with "Heads or Tales," a comedy about a heterosexual guy who pretends he's gay. Pic opened on 37 screens March 14 in Quebec, and is likely to clean up on local turf thanks to its broad-based sitcom-like humor. The premise of Fournier and Raymond's script, however, is not all that original, and the predictable comic situations, largely based on spoofing all the usual gay stereotypes, will limit its reach outside Canada. The presence of Gallic starlet Arielle Dombasle may pique interest in France, though her part is a relatively minor one.

With:
Dominique Samson ..... Roy Dupuis Pierre Sanchez ..... Patrick Huard Maude ..... Charlotte Laurier De Beauregard ..... Albert Millaire Victor ..... Normand Levesque Dr. Lamoureux ..... Guy Nadon Elisabeth Ballester ..... France Castel Rose Petipas ..... Arielle Dombasle

Homoerotic comic tone is set as the credits roll over shots of scantily clad Dominique Samson (Roy Dupuis) and Pierre Sanchez (Patrick Huard) in the midst of a sweaty wrestling bout. The two wrestling aficionados are partners in their own architecture firm, but they’ve barely dried themselves off from their post-wrestle showers when they discover that bailiffs are emptying their offices due to the company’s heavy debt load.

With the business belly-up, they’re both suddenly on the job market. Pierre almost immediately snares a teaching position, but Dominique has no luck. In desperation, he sells an old chest of drawers to an antique dealer, Etienne De Beauregard (Albert Millaire), who takes a real shine to the young architect and shortly offers Dominique a job. There’s only one small catch — De Beauregard assumes that Dominique, who is married with kids, is gay, and it appears that the offer is dependent on Dominique being “part of the family.”

Urged on by Pierre, Dominique decides to take the job, which leads to a slew of comic scenes built around his rather preposterous impersonation. Pierre agrees to vamp it up as Dominique’s b.f. at various social functions; an unrepentant hetero, Pierre takes to the gay role with much enthusiasm.

Everything is going along just swell for Dominique until his wife, Maude (Charlotte Laurier), returns from vacation and discovers that her husband seems to have changed his sexual orientation. After meeting a few of his new friends and rifling through his gay-nightclub-themed wardrobe, Maude boots him out of the house. Dominique begins to question his sexuality and virility, but his worries vanish when he meets French designer Rose Petipas (Dombasle), who quickly reignites his heterosexual libido.

Fournier keeps the jokes coming at a fairly rapid-fire pace, and the seasoned writer-director knows exactly how to pull together an old-fashioned comic romp. It may not be the most distinctive material, but at least it’s rarely dull.

Dupuis handles himself well in his first major comic role, and he manages to add a welcome human element to the goofiness. Huard, a popular Quebec comic making his bigscreen debut here, has a fairly one-dimensional character to play. Millaire hams it up big-time as De Beauregard, as does Normand Levesque as De Beauregard’s hysterical friend Victor. Dombasle has little to do except look like a gorgeous French sex symbol, which is hardly a stretch.

Odette Gadoury’s costumes are suitably ostentatious, while rocker Dan Bigras’ score is surprisingly gritty for such a frothy comedy.

Heads or Tails

Canadian

Production: A Rose Films/Malofilm production, with the participation of Telefilm Canada, SODEC and the Reseaux Premier Choix. (International sales: Malofilm Intl., Montreal.) Produced by Marie-Jose Raymond. Directed by Claude Fournier. Screenplay, Fournier, Marie-Jose Raymond.

Crew: Camera (color), Eric Cayla; editor, Denis Papillon; music, Dan Bigras; costumes, Odette Gadoury; sound, Philippe Scultety. Reviewed at the Molson Centre, Montreal, March 10, 1997. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: Dominique Samson ..... Roy Dupuis Pierre Sanchez ..... Patrick Huard Maude ..... Charlotte Laurier De Beauregard ..... Albert Millaire Victor ..... Normand Levesque Dr. Lamoureux ..... Guy Nadon Elisabeth Ballester ..... France Castel Rose Petipas ..... Arielle DombasleWith: Sophie Faucher, Nanette Workman, Jacques Languirand, Micheline Lanctot, Jean-Guy Bouchard, Dan Bigras, and Claude Rajotte.

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