… Marianne-Coquelicot Mercier
Marie-Pierre … Denis Mercier
Lucky … Tobie Pelletier
Michele … Sylvie Drapeau
J. Boulet … Luc Picard
Jacob … Giles Renaud
Selected to open the 1993 Montreal World Film Fest, “The Sex of the Stars,” from distaff helmer Paule Baillargeon, proves an interesting, worthy but strangely uninvolving selection. Offbeater, about a 12-year-old girl who has to come to terms with the fact that her beloved father is a transsexual, never really engages the emotions, despite sensitive handling. It’s unlikely to be much of an arthouse attraction, despite a titillating, and misleading, ad campaign.
On paper, the story, adapted by Monique Proulx from her own 1987 novel, has plenty of possibilities. Camille (Marianne-Coquelicot Mercier) is a bright youngster, a few weeks short of her 13th birthday. She’s obsessed with astronomy , and claims she likes star gazing because stars have no sex.
Her problem is not only that her dad walked out on her and her mother, Michele (Sylvie Drapeau), some years before and that she longs for him to come back; it’s that when he does come back, it’s as a not very attractive woman, Marie-Pierre (Denis Mercier). “Father” and daughter strike up a tentative relationship, and she persuades him to stay on in Montreal instead of returning immediately to New York as he’d planned. But she wants her old father back, and Marie-Pierre isn’t about to change. Growing up fast, Camille is taken in hand by Lucky (Tobie Pelletier), a crippled kid her age, who snorts cocaine and knows more than he should about the wilder side of sex.
It’s a pity that, having set up this intriguing premise, Proulx and Baillargeon do very little with it. What should have been an emotionally draining experience plays, instead, as unexciting, with little variation in mood. Part of the problem is the awkward performance of Denis Mercier, who never convinces as Marie-Pierre. Marianne-Coquelicot Mercier is somewhat more successful in depicting the daughter’s pain, but by far the best performance comes from Drapeau as the angry, anguished mother.
Pic was greeted coolly by the opening-night audience, and it won’t travel far. Tech credits are all excellent.