DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
GUYS, GIRLS AND A JERK (DES GARS, DES FILLES ET UN SALAUD) (V) (director/editor: Diana Lewis; screenwriter: Simon Boisvert; cinematographer: Ivan Gekoff; editor: Simon Boisvert; cast: Simon Boisvert (Vincent), Caroline Brabant (Julie), Erwin Weche (Louis), Paul Ahmarani (Eric), Diana Lewis (Stephanie), Natasha M. Leroux (Caroline), Havat Cheik (Anne), Sébastien Boivin (Antoine), Dario Gasbarro (Richard), Zachary N. Carmel (Max), Mélanie Elliott (Nathalie), Marie-Claude Hébert (Elizabeth), Elsa Pottier (Valérie); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Simon Boisvert; Optimum; 2003-Canada-in French with English subtitles)

 
"An antidote to those formulaic Hollywood young adult comedy romances, where everything turns out right in the end."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Guys, Girls and a Jerk is a weaker yet funnier updated French-Canadian version of Michael Caine's Alfie, a film that glamorized a cad and the swinging London scene of the 1960s. "Guys" aims to show contemporary Montreal as a place where clueless girls are charmed by a guy without charm. It is directed, edited and features Diana Lewis as a hurt lover who is willing to forgive but not forget. It is written, produced and stars Simon Boisvert as the jerk. Though he's really more of a scoundrel than a jerk. It is the sequel to the film Stephanie, Nathalie, Caroline and Vincent. The film takes place five years later with Vincent quitting his secure job he worked the last seven years in order to operate a dating service, where he hopes to score vulnerable chicks and make piles of money. 

It's a true indie film, shot in Montreal over 7 days for $50,000. The quality of the VHS print I saw was just fine, with clear subtitles (something I really appreciate in a foreign language film).

The film as forewarned by the title features several guys, girls and a jerk named Vincent (Simom Boisvert, the screenwriter); all of the main characters seem to be twentysomethings. The story centers around Vincent as a womanizer without a conscience. In the first scene he lures a serious girl (Pottier) he just picked up back to her pad with the line "My last girlfriend left because I wanted children and she didn't." This is enough for him to bang her on a one-night stand and then abruptly leave after sex, which makes her upset that he played her just to get laid.

Vincent's naive girlfriend Anne is blind to his infidelities, but she continues the relationship even when he coldly rejects her suggestion of a permanent commitment. The narrative relates a series of unfeeling relationships Vincent has where he displays his cruel nature. They range from pretending to be a client at his own dating service and under a false name taking advantage of a lonely girl (Hébert); the pursuit of relationships with two of his exes, Stephanie (Diana Lewis, the director) and Caroline; a sexual encounter with his adopted sister Nathalie that becomes more sickening when he pimps her off to another male student for nefarious purposes; and, he also manages to get into the pants of Julie, his nice guy best friend Louis' neurotic live-in girlfriend (Louis goes against stereotype as a black guy who is not good in bed but is sensitive). Vincent acts just as crudely and arrogantly with his male friends. His sister's loser boyfriend Antoine has a gambling addiction problem and is also a petty thief, and is exploited by Vincent for his character weaknesses and unwittingly becomes part of Vincent's scheme to get Stephanie fired from her junior college teaching job after she rejects his advances. Vincent gets Nathalie to erase Antoine's gambling debts by providing sexual favors to a stranger. His other friend is Richard, a sleazy motel manager who sells to schoolchildren porn videos made by a hidden camera in the unsuspecting guest's room and uses Anne's 12-year-old nephew Max to do the sales.

The slight film would be viewed as merely a modest success except for the one astonishing character performance by Vincent’s wacky geek dating service employee Eric (Paul Ahmarani), who gives the film an absurd sense of comedy. This guy had me in stitches, as the film is worth seeing just for his insane antics. Ahmarani had me laughing just by covering his face with his hands after goofing up or fidgeting at his desk with a screwdriver.

Boisvert's script keeps his character in tow as an unreformed, despicable sleaze, whose character has no redeeming values and the mild lesson he gets in the way of a comeuppance has no moral impact on him--which keeps the film honest, at least, as a straight comedy that makes no pretense to say something about relationships that matter. With that being said, that makes this the perfect relationship film to see for those into the dating game who have been shaken by all the Vincent-like creeps out there in the real world. It's an antidote to those formulaic Hollywood young adult comedy romances, where everything turns out right in the end. Though the film gets a little too sentimental in regards to the supporting character couples who were victimized by Vincent, as they find a way of getting back together again that didn't seem all that credible.

REVIEWED ON 4/9/2004        GRADE: B 

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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