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The Ideal Man

Lucie Marie-Lise Pilote

Lucie Marie-Lise Pilote

Christian Roy Dupuis

Virginie Macha Grenon

Rebecca Joe Bocan

Mado Francine Ruel

Albert Denis Bouchard

Georges Patrice L’Ecuyer

Frank Jean-Marie Lapointe

Bob Remy Girard

Gilbert Jean Leclerc

With: Carmen Ferland, Marc-Andre Coallier, Linda Sorgini, Yvan Benoit, Marianne Larochelle, Mathieu Labrie, Pauline Lapointe, Martin Drainville, Gregory Hlady, Cedric Noel, Elizabeth Chouvalidze, Francis Reddy, Rita Lafontaine.

The top home-grown French-lingo B.O. performers in Quebec in recent years have been star-driven, sitcom-like comedies, and “The Ideal Man” is very much in the tradition of such Franco Canuck hits as “La Florida” and “Louis 19.” Pic is a likable, often funny look at love, sex and relationships that features an endearing performance by popular local comic Marie-Lise Pilote, in her film debut. The film, which opened across Quebec Sept. 27, will be a crowd-pleaser in French Canada, with the presence of Pilote and a slew of the province’s best-known film and TV stars ensuring healthy B.O. returns. Outside Canada, pic is more likely to find a home on the small screen.

Directed by “La Florida” helmer Georges Mihalka, “The Ideal Man” is a reasonably entertaining, if less than inspired, offering. Helmer easily could have shaved 15 to 20 minutes off the length; final third sags notably.

After a catchy animated sequence accompanying the opening credits, tale kicks off with Lucie (Pilote) waking up on the morning of her 35th birthday in bed beside grungy-looking rocker Christian (Roy Dupuis), the first of a parade of potential b.f.’s to appear in pic. Day starts on wrong foot with a call from Lucie’s mom reminding her daughter that she has just turned 35 and still doesn’t have any children.

Arriving at her job as a writer-editor at a glossy women’s magazine, Lucie is confronted with a crowd of mothers and toddlers. Later that day, she tells her girlfriends that she wants to have a baby and makes a bet with her buddies that she’ll snare the ideal father within three months. Rest of the film centers on her quest for the perfect male specimen and, rather predictably, her encounters with a bunch of single guys who fall way below her expectations.

The first candidate is Albert (Denis Bouchard), a condescending, irritating intellectual who is one of the funnier foils in the piece. After rejecting Albert’s advances, she hooks up with Frank (Jean-Marie Lapointe), a young, Rollerblade-wearing, ultra-athletic type who is way too energetic for Lucie, particularly in the sack. The slapstick sex scene in which Frank literally exhausts the surprised Lucie is staged to the raucous Quebec rock anthem “J’Entends Frapper,” and it’s one of the more memorable comic moments.

Next up to bat is Bob (Remy Girard), a feminist fellow with a penchant for psycho-babble. Their relationship bites the dust when, in a crowded cafe, he loudly shows her how men fake orgasms in a scene more than a little reminiscent of the Meg Ryan fake-orgasm gag in “When Harry Met Sally ” Next, a smooth-talking lawyer (Jean Leclerc) seems the perfect match temporarily.

The last hope for Lucie is conservative gynecologist Pierre (Cedric Noel), but his over-bearing, class-conscious mother manages to disrupt the blooming romance. Throughout, Lucie’s ex- b.f. Georges (Patrice L’Ecuyer) appears on the scene to chat with Lucie about her hectic love life.

Mihalka keeps the laughs coming at a steady pace and rarely stoops to the lowest-common-denominator humor that marred “La Florida.” One of the difficulties with Sylvie Pilon and Daniaile Jarry’s script is that it never stays long enough with any of the potential suitors to present anything more than a caricature of a bunch of men behaving, for the most part, badly.

It is newcomer Pilote’s lead performance that holds the anecdotal story together with a captivating portrayal of a woman in midlife crisis. Most of the male thesps aren’t onscreen long enough to impress, though Bouchard, as the smarmy academic, and L’Ecuyer, as the ex, do the most with their screen time.

Veteran composer Francois Dompierre delivers a nuanced, top-notch score, and the soundtrack is pumped up by a steady stream of Quebec rock numbers. Other tech credits are fine.

The Ideal Man

Production: A Cinepix Film Properties (CFP)/Quatrieme Vague production, with the participation of Telefilm Canada, Super Ecran and the Quebec government. (International sales: CFP Intl., Montreal.) Produced by Christian Larouche, Daniaile Jarry. Executive producers, John Dunning, Andre Link. Directed by Georges Mihalka. Screenplay, Sylvie Pilon, Daniaile Jarry.

Crew: Camera (color), Rodney Gibbons; editor, Francois Gill; music, Francois Dompierre; art direction, Louis Jobin; costumes, Paul-Andre Guerin; sound, Gabor Vadnay; line producer, Barbara Shrier; assistant director, Jacques W. Benoit. Reviewed at Imperial Cinema, Montreal, Sept. 25, 1996. Running time: 110 MIN.

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