Greetings from the Underground!
Starting college is never easy, especially if it is in a different country. Then there is the pressure from your parents to do well. Add on top of that dating, life can get very complicated. These are just some of the topics explored in Patricia Chica’s new film Montréal Girls.
Montréal Girls tells the story of Ramy played by Hakim Brahimi. Ramy is a young middle eastern man who moves to Montréal to start medical school, though his real passion is poetry. His musician cousin Tamer introduces him to the Montréal underground scene where Ramy meets two women, Yaz and Desiree. Two Montréal Girls who will make Ramy question the path he is on and help him discover where his true destiny lies.
Filmmaker Patricia Chica delivers a moving, grounded, honest look at how complicated life can get for a college age person…heck for anyone. The dialog and situations our characters are put in felt real. Especially those awkward moments. Hakim Brahimi puts in a touching performance as Ramy. Watching him fumble through his relationship with Desiree and Yaz was delightfully frustrating. You felt what he was feeling, whether it was his yearning to be a poet or frustration dealing with his dad’s expectations or pushing hard to have a relationship with a problematic woman. Sana Asad plays Yaz who, like all the main characters, has layers to her. While we are never presented with the full details of her life, you can piece together the reasons why she is the way she is with Ramy. This is thanks to the nuance of Asad’s performance and the writing of Chica and Kamal John Iskander. Jasmina Parent’s Desiree also is a deep character with an artistic playfulness. She also also has feelings for Ramy and is obviously the better relationship fit. She also isn’t in the mood for any B.S. Parent presents a strong female character the audience can get behind.
What I enjoyed about these characters that Ramy meets is each one represents a different aspect of life. Even the supporting characters like Tamer, Ramy’s punk rock cousin, who is the reality check that Ramy ignores and Phoenix, the poet that Ramy aspires to be like. All of them help Ramy to discover his true self and set him on a path that was not the one he intended but the one that best suits him.
This film has a high production value, fun soundtrack, and feels like a window into what life is like in Montreal. It is also a bit of a love letter to the city of Montréal. Chica picks some of the most visually interesting locations of the city that are captured perfectly by cinematographer Alexandre Bussière. Once scene involving Desiree and Ramy on an observation area overlooking the entire city was particularly stunning.
Montréal Girls tells a story that will connect with everyone. It presents honest and emotional situations that many of us have been in. Even at its heaviest moments the film stays grounded, never feeling like it has gone too over the top or “Hollywood” for lack of a better term. These characters are handled with care and you can tell everyone involved brought their A game. If you enjoy romantic dramas with some comedy peppered in for good measure, then you need to check out Montréal Girls.
Montréal Girls makes its world premiere August 20th, 2022 at Cinequest Film and Creativity Festival 2022.