Runtime 109 minutes.
Not for children.

Copyright(c) eOne Films

Patrick Huard in “Starbuck.”

This film presents a unique moral dilemma. What is the responsibility of a sperm donor to the offsprings created through his sperm?

David Wozniak (Patrick Huard) needed money so he was constantly donating to a sperm clinic. He signed a confidentiality agreement each time he donated, protecting his privacy. A couple of decades later it is discovered that one donor, who identified himself as Starbuck, was responsible for 533 children. Some of the children demand to know who their father is.

Patrick is in dire need of money, and is being pursued by two mob debt collectors. His good friend, identified only as “David’s lawyer” played by Antoine Bertrand, wants to sue the clinic for damages and to preserve David’s anonymity.

Deftly directed by Ken Scott, who co-wrote the script with Martin Pettit, David finds himself in a pickle. He’s in a relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Valérie (appealing Julie Le Breton), who wants him to change his life. He is inept at his job, a meat deliverer for his family business, run by his father and brothers, and he is constantly hounded by the debt collectors.

Scott and Pettit had started to write the story about a sperm donor who finds he is responsible for 150 children. When a news story hit the stands about a donor who is responsible for over 500 children, they changed their story to the higher number, knowing that it was credible.

Even though I thought that the reaction of David’s children was unrealistic, this is still an intuitive, unusual comedy that deals with a real societal problem commendably.

Often foreign films are remade by American film companies to their detriment. Foreign originals are almost always better than their American remakes. One American remake that was almost as good as its foreign original was Death at a Funeral (2007 British, 2010 American). Both versions were hilarious. Although this film was made in 2011, it is just now being released here. It is already scheduled to be reshot by Scott starring Vince Vaughn. Vaughn is an accomplished actor, but I will be surprised if he can equal the exceptional performance given by Huard. In French.

The Call
Runtime 94 minutes.
Not for children.

Copyright(c) Sony Pictures/TriStar Pictures

Halle Berry in “The Call.”

Director Brad Anderson keeps raising the tension in this film about a 911 operator (Halle Berry) who gets a call from a kidnapped teenager (Abigail Breslin) imprisoned in the trunk of a the car of sex fiend Michael Eklund. As usual in a thriller, the music is essential to the dramatic impact of the movie and John Debney has succeeded admirably with a score that enhances the tension. The cinematography (Tom Yatsko) is also key to this film because basically it takes place in a room of 911 operators and the trunk of the car. But as Anderson cuts back and forth, Yatsko alternates scenes of Breslin trapped in the trunk with aerial shots of the car going to its destination with Eklund calmly driving along unaware that Breslin is frantically trying to help Berry determine where she is.

Breslin’s performance is truly exceptional as she spends much of the film lying on her back in the trunk, able to express her emotions only through her voice and facial expressions. It’s a remarkable job of acting for one so young (16). Berry’s performance is equally effective as she communicates the stress these operators must endure, especially if they are caring and sensitive.

This gives an insight into what 911 operators have to go through and is informative about what their office locations look like and the equipment they use and how it works. Berry did a lot of research into this before starting the role. I found that learning the workings of this system that is such a big part of our society at least as interesting as the plot of the movie.

This is a fine, tension-packed, rewarding film.

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