A move to Montréal for medical school brings out a side of Ramy that he had been wanting to let out. Through poetry, music, and local young women, he finds himself and his path in life.
Co-written by Patricia Chica and Kamal John Iskander and directed by Chica (a Montréal Girl herself), this film explores life as an immigrant, life as a young adult, life as an artist, and life as a Montrealer. You see, living in Montréal is particular, it’s like a lot of other major cities but different. There is something in the air, there is something in the art, there is something in the city itself. Montréal is a cosmopolitan mix of Paris, London, NYC, and Toronto among many others. It has a culture that is a mix of French, English, American, and all the immigrants that form its residents. Many come to study in its universities, many visit for the summer, some never leave. Chica’s film takes all of this, adds a dash of photography, some music, and trips to the Mont Royal to bring it all to the screen in a way that is beautiful and logical. Her work takes her love for the city and art then applies it to the screen in a way that brings the viewer in and makes them want to stay. She makes the city look like somewhere you’d want to spend a summer or two. The characters she creates here are complex and human, they come off as real people you could meet at Café Darling or at any of the Mile End’s restos or any of the Plateau’s cool bars. She gives them lives, loves, hopes, and a few negatives to balance them out. These people are not perfect, but they are doing their best to live and be happy, something that grounds the film into a sort of almost dreamlike reality that feels quite realistic at times.
The cast here was picked carefully for what they could do, but also for how they meshed together and it shows. In the lead of Ramy is Hakim Brahimi who does quite well with the part and with the arc he is given throughout the film. His portrayal evolves with the character, adjusting his ways and vibe as Ramy changes through his experiences in Montreal. Playing the two main Montréal Girls are Jasmina Parent as Desiree and Sana Asad as Yaz, two young women who come into Ramy’s life unexpectedly and open his eyes and his mind to a whole new world. The two of them give great performances here, giving two sides that start of quite similar and clearly become rather different as the film advances. The two of them come off genuine and with the right kind of energy for their part. They show a dichotomy seen in Montréal Girls, they show two sides, they are both have a whole lot more going on than originally thought. Their performances balance each other and work great with each other and with Brahimi’s. The cast here is rounded out with a few recognizable faces for viewers of Quebec entertainment and a few newer faces, all of whom do more than decent work here. The cast overall is showing plenty talent and passion for what they do here.
Montréal Girls has a style all of its own, something viewers of Patricia Chica’s previous films will notice and recognize as her style. The film has some flares, a few scenes, and some elements that come directly from her previous films, including influences from Morning After and Ceramic Tango even. The cinematography work by Alexandre Bussière here is stunning with some scenes showing the nature of Montreal, some showing the city, the nightlife, and just life. His lens captures the city and the characters just right, making it feel like you are indeed in Montréal. The music by Suad Bushnaq and David Deïas as well as the soundtrack peppered with moody tracks, some party music, and some local punk is the right mix of just about everything that makes the city what it is. The music here is clearly carefully chosen and added to the film for specific reasons. The images and the music influence the whole mood of any film and this one is no different, doing so in just the right ways.
Montréal Girls is a particular film that knows what it wants to show and how to do so. The film has emotions, style, and so much more that is hard to describe but that the film manages to pull forth onto the screen with ease. This is clearly a labor of love and a love letter for the city director Patricia Chica calls home. The film is carefully crafted on all levels, lovely to watch as it takes you into its world and makes you believe that perhaps Montréal is THE city to go find yourself and become who you are meant to be. Montréal Girls captures the vibes and feel of a city and group of its population just right.