June 9, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 48°F


Review: ‘Starbuck’ spins an absurd yet heartfelt film

Film festival hit “Starbuck” is a prime example of how a movie can overcome a small budget and still produce big laughs by having an original script and cast. The French-Canadian foreign film avoids a screwball comedy style and culminates as a truly heartfelt and affably humorous story.


The plot of the film follows David (Patrick Huard), who, between the years of 1988 and 1990, made hundreds of donations to a sperm bank while using the anonymous pseudonym of “Starbuck.” Years later, while faced with financial trouble, David learns that his donations led to the birth of 533 children. Of those, 142 of them have come forward and banded together with a class action lawsuit to get the clinic to reveal the identity of “Starbuck” by arguing for their basic right to know their father. David, with the help of his lawyer friend Avocat (Antoine Bertrand), takes on the lawsuit to protect his name. At the same time, David must prove to his longterm girlfriend Valerie (Julie LeBreton) how serious he can be about their relationship or he will lose her forever.


Front man Huard gives an earnest and highly memorable performance and leads the film’s acting. Huard manages to evoke sympathy and authenticity while playing a part in a story that, on the surface, feels nothing short of ridiculous. Huard’s seemingly natural reactions to his situation keep the story under control and never stray into overly zany territory.


The plot of the film may come off as unrealistic at first, but in the end, the story exudes sincerity. The film’s script, by Ken Scott and Martin Petit, provides the realism to help counter the quirky concept. Each time the premise of one man fathering 500 children is brought up, the film’s script includes dialogue that can influence audiences to buy into the story. One such example is when the story of “Starbuck” and the 500 offspring reaches the tabloids. Just as one might expect, the media eat it up by using a campaign to attempt to reveal the identity of the mystery man. This sequence of events mimics what the audience might suspect would be the real reaction of tabloid news sources to such a far-fetched story.


The emotional components in “Starbuck” also enhance the sincerity of the movie. Though some of the subject matter may come off as inappropriate at times, the prevailing focus on the importance of family and loved ones carries until the end.


The wealth of intriguing characters within the group of David’s children provides intriguing material in the film. Though each of the characters receives relatively little screen time, many still manage to stand out and make bold character choices that entertain in one way or another. Examples of this include David’s Goth son, who dons eyeliner and long bangs, as well as another son, who is noticeably hip and plays a guitar as a subway street musician.


Though certainly an improbable story, “Starbuck” manages to stay truthful and believable through a remarkable cast and script. These strong elements, as well as the movie’s touching message about family appreciation, drive the story and deliver an unexpectedly heartwarming and well-crafted bundle of joy.


Overall Rating: 3 Stars


Patrick Huard stars in ‘Starbuck,’ a quirky film about a man who unwittingly fathers 533 children through generations sperm bank donations.