Starbuck has some unexpectedly poignant moments
Starring Patrick Huard and Julie LeBreton. In French with English subtitles. Rating not available. Opens Friday, October 14, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
As every serious coffee drinker should know, Starbuck was the name of the morally conflicted Quaker first mate on the Pequod in Moby Dick. It was also the name of a prized Canadian bull famous for his virility, and that is surely why it was chosen as a nom de sperm by donor David Wozniak (Bon Cop, Bad Cop’s excellent Patrick Huard) back in the ’80s, when he got thirty-five Canuck bucks a pop at a local fertility clinic.
Presently, this perennial wanker—you know, one of those cinematic losers who, at 40, still lives in a loft surrounded by electric guitars and soccer posters—is low man on the totem poll at the Montreal meat business run by his father and brothers. He is in debt to gangsters; his grow-op is failing; and those are only two reasons he’s on the outs with his grumpy girlfriend (The Rocket’s Julie LeBreton), who happens to be a cop and, oh, yeah, pregnant.
She’s not the only one with child. It turns out he managed to sire 533 wee ones without knowing about it, and about a third of them—now young adults—are suing that incredibly lazy clinic for the identity of their da-da.
For immediate relief, David looks to his self-deprecating lawyer and apparent best friend (Antoine Bertrand, the Seth Rogan of this piece), but he ends up with a packet containing dossiers on all the claimants. Unable to contain his curiosity, he’s soon insinuating his way into their lives—still anonymously, of course.
This is a clever device for building a lot of story-line DNA quickly, and the good-looking film’s script, from Martin Petit and resourceful director Ken Scott (who also wrote The Rocket and Seducing Dr. Lewis), doesn’t spend much time with the stalkerish aspects of his quasi-parental pursuit, instead wringing some unexpectedly poignant moments, plus a number of big laughs, from passing encounters.
The caffeine high dissipates eventually, especially once the trial begins. And at the last moment, our thoughtlessly virile protagonist is absolved of his Ahab-like struggle to be a better man. This, however, will in no way prohibit the tale from being harpooned for a Hollywood remake. In fact, you can spend the last few minutes trying to picture who’ll play Starbuck—after they change the name. (Mark Ruffalo is out, by the way; he already did this in The Kids Are All Right.)
Watch the trailer for Starbuck.