Be it the cinematography, the story, or the acting, everyone pays attention to something different when watching a movie. While viewing “Des Gars, Des Filles, et un Salaud” (Diana Lewis, 2003), or “Guys, Girls, and a Jerk,” all I can focus on is whether the actors are French-speaking Americans or Canadians, and if the director struck a deal with Coca-Cola for the product placement of Fruitopia and Coke. The film is about a creep named Vincent (Simon Boisvert), who runs a dating service and how his unrighteous mind affects the lives of his friends and family. A bit too customer-satisfaction oriented, Vincent insists on “testing out” promising female clients. He also urges his morally conscious nephew to drink beer. Vincent is a schmuck and you couldn’t care less about him. Unfortunately, you won’t particularly care for any of the characters, not because you don’t feel bad for them when Vincent betrays their trust. Rather, they don’t get much sympathy from you because they’re portrayed by under-skilled actors.
Both Lewis and Boisvert, director and writer respectively, star in “Guys, Girls, and a Jerk.” Their on-screen performances suggest that they had no choice but to cast themselves in their own film. Lewis plays the role of Stephanie, one of Vincent’s ex-girlfriends. There’s considerably more effort and sincerity emanating from her—she isn’t that bad. Boisvert, on the other hand, is painful to watch (and he has the most screen-time). Like the majority of the cast, his speech and body language is unnatural. There’s an ever-present halo of discomfort lingering about his limbs. It’s almost as if he doesn’t feel at home in his body. Ironically enough, Boisvert doesn’t have to try to give you an uneasy feeling. One glance from his general direction is sufficient.
Even more unbearable than the characters’ acting is their speaking. When I’m not shielding my eyes from unflattering shots of naked torsos and rear-ends, I’m attempting to figure out why some of the actors’ French is an assault to the aural senses. Judging from their accents, it is unlikely that the film originates from France. I continue to debate with myself if the cast is American or Canadian. I rejoice when there are two shots of paper currency. The bills are pastel pink and definitely not American. I am so consumed in uncovering the nationality of the cast that as the ending credits go by, I look carefully for any other clues. The four years of French that I took in high-school pay off as I am able to read the un-subtitled “thank yous” to local merchants. One is a hotel named Ruby Foo’s, and the other is a restaurant-bar called the St. Laurent. A Google search indicates that said merchants are located in Montreal. Case closed.
I’m certain that during post-production stages, neither Lewis nor Boisvert were expecting that potential viewers would pay more attention to a detail like whether or not their cast is Canadian, but such a preoccupation is exactly what happens. The best part in “Guys, Girls, and A Jerk” involves one of Vincent’s employees Eric (Paul Ahmarani). He fiddles with a screwdriver and an exacto knife. He looks like he wants to stick the screwdriver up his nose. Too bad the entire movie couldn’t be about Eric and his toy.
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