MONTREAL GIRLS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

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An aspiring doctor with a poet’s heart rethinks his life’s path in Montréal Girls, a low-key coming-of-age story that captures twentysomething unease among that city’s art scene.

Ramy (Hakim Brahimi, Antigone) moves into his uncle’s home in Montreal bound for medical school—a dream of his father (Chadi Alhelou) and his late mother (Natalie Tannous). But Ramy has other dreams, imagining himself speaking poetry at an open mike in the spotlight. His topic, appropriately enough, is fear, considering he’s nervous to share his words with anyone.

While hanging around with his cousin Tamer (Jade Hassouné, Shadowhunters), who fronts a punk band, Ramy meets Desiree (Jasmina Parent, District 31) and Yaz (Sana Asad, The Boys), a photographer and band promoter, respectively. The two like to flirt and make out but also invite Ramy along. He’s soon entranced by Yaz, who shares few personal details and wonders if that’s why Ramy finds her so attractive. Tamer and Desiree warn him he can do better.

The girls here are like buses, Tamer notes. “You miss one, you catch the next.”

Meanwhile, Ramy wonders if he’s found his muse.

Director Patricia Chica, who co-wrote the script with Kamal John Iskander, blends Ramy’s exploration of the city’s nightlife with his soul-searching, showing him becoming bolder with his verses and sharing his work. Desiree, for one, encourages him: “Own it if you care about it—otherwise, what’s the point?” she says.

Yaz isn’t developed much as a character, but that seems by design, and the rest of the cast more than make up that. Brahimi and Hassouné have a believably jokey rapport, and there’s genuine warmth between Brahimi and Manuel Tadros (District 31), who plays Ramy’s uncle, and Tannous, as the mother who’s more of a muse than Ramy at first wants to admit.

The pacing lags in parts with perhaps too many moped rides around the city, but Chica shows off Montreal beautifully between poetry readings in the park and sunlit vistas. This contrasts with the punk bars, galleries, and other spots that Ramy comes to know.

With poetry so much on his mind, the script also amusingly has characters who speak in poetic phrases. “The more you resist the stream of life, the more it makes you drown,” muses one man whom Ramy encounters one day.

“Allow your voice to become your freedom,” another character says. And if the girls of Montreal don’t exactly help Ramy do that, it’s still rewarding watching him figure out what he wants.

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Valerie Kalfrin

Valerie Kalfrin is an award-winning crime journalist turned freelance film writer whose work appears at, In Their Own League, Script, The Hollywood Reporter, and other outlets. Also a screenwriter and script consultant, she’s passionate about challenging stereotypes about gender and disability. Let’s tell better stories and tell stories better.