This is a Canadian film with French dialogue. It centers on the main character of Zac and covers his life from 1960 until the early 1980′s. Zac was born on Christmas Day in 1960. He is the fourth child (all sons) and had a rather dramatic entrance into the world. Starting off by being legally dead for a few seconds and then followed by being accidentally dropped before he even leaves the hospital. It’s a wonder the poor boy survived at all.
Jump forward to Christmas 1966. Zac has always hated Christmas; his birthday gets lumped together with it, his day starts with midnight mass and he never gets the gifts he really wants. For example, his dad gets him a hockey game, when what he really wants is a pram for dolls. Which his mom secretly gets for him, but when his dad finds out he makes her return it, to Zac’s great disappointment.
Zac never fit in with his older brothers. They each had their own interests and he couldn’t relate to them, or they to him. The worst one was Raymond, (the second oldest brother) who went out of his way to relentlessly torment him. Zac idolized his dad when he was younger and his dad liked to do special things with him (without the other boys). One of their favorite things to do together was to go to “Norm the King of Fries”. It was their own special father/son excursion and it meant so much to Zac.
His relationship with his father took a drastic turn when he was only seven years old. His mom recently had another son (Yvan) and she enlisted Zac to help take care of him. Pushing his pram, holding and comforting him when he would cry (Zac is the only one that could calm him down). His dad barely tolerated these activities, but the final straw was when he caught Zac dressed up in his mom’s clothes and jewelry pretending to be Yvan’s mother. Things were never the same between them after that. His father became very short with him and would continually try to push him to be the type of son he wanted him to be.
After seeing how Zac could effortlessly calm his colicky brother his mom becomes convinced he has a special gift. She takes him to see the Tupperware lady (who supposedly also has a gift) to confirm it. She is thrilled when the woman agrees with her suspicions and proceeds to tell the whole family about Zac’s gift of healing. This leads to them calling anytime they have an injury or illness to ask him to think about them and heal them (even if it’s just a small cut).
We jump forward to 1975, Zac still doesn’t fit in with his brothers, he and his father’s relationship has remained strained and we find that he really doesn’t fit in at school either. This has led to him becoming a bit of a rebel. Listing to music his father doesn’t approve of, dressing in a glam style, becoming an atheist, smoking, etc. Zac is so torn between following his attraction to other guys and being the type of son his father wants. He misses having his father’s approval and the close relationship they had when he was younger, but can seem to find a way to get it back. As we move forward in time we watch as Zac and his family continue to go through ups and downs in their lives.
This is a very moving and emotional film. I really felt for the character of Zac. He struggled so much during his life trying to find a balance between fitting in and becoming the person he was meant to be. His mother was the only person in his life that loved and supported him unconditionally. They had a wonderful relationship and I really enjoyed the interaction between the two characters.
Marc-André Grondin played the character of Zac from age 15 to age 21. This is the first thing I had ever seen him in and I have to say I was blown away by his performance. He provided such an honest and realistic portrayal of the character. The emotional depth and range he brought to the screen was amazing. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of his movies.
Some of my favorite quotes:
Zac – “My three brothers were morons.”
Mom – “I’ll go see Mrs. Whatshername, the Tupperware lady. She, too, has a gift.”
Zac – “I had just turned seven and, unwittingly, declared war on my father.”
Dad – “He’s a crybaby, he dresses like a girl. It’s not normal.”
Mom – “Get over it. It’s you who’s not normal.”
Zac – “Midnight mass was so short and sweet now that I’d become an atheist.”
Zac – “Having a crazy brother also had its advantages. Always ready to help …”
Raymond – “Pay up, you little b*st*rd.”
Zac – “For the modest sum of $2.”
Zac – “Being happy and healthy, or miserable and f*cked up? It’s a no-brainer.”
Zac – “How sweet life was since I had become so happy and fulfilled.”
The title references two things; the song by Patsy Cline and the names of the five sons, Christian, Raymond, Antoine, Zac and Yvan.
Loved the scene when Zac was singing along to David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity”.
The film is based on true events in the writer’s own lives, which have been blended together. The areas concerning sexuality and the father/son relationship are based on François Boulay’s life. Whereas, the areas concerning music and faith were based on Jean-Marc Vallée’s life.
Following is additional information about the show that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
I was surprised when Raymond actually stood up for Zac at Christian’s wedding. It was an interesting turn of events after all the grief Raymond had put Zac through in his life.
It was so tragic that it took the death of another son before Zac’s father could learn to accept him for who he is. When he hugged Zac it brought tears to my eyes.
I loved the ending with Zac now being the one to drive his dad to get fries at “Norm the King of Fries”.