Albert Einstein once wrote, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” These few lines determine the theme of The Guide to the Perfect Family. Martin believes his daughter Rose is a champion who excels in every subject in school. Only he never asked Rose whether she wants to be a champion or not.
In The Guide to the Perfect Family, the pressure of parental expectations burdens a teenager who resorts to illegal means to win in the game of life. When the bubble of illusion bursts, it drowns both the father and the child alike. Ricardo Trogi’s film covers the conflict between a father and a daughter who fail to understand each other.
Martin Dubois is a corporate employee who lives in Québec with his second wife, Marie-Soleil, their young son, Mathis, and teenage daughter, Rose (from his first marriage). Martin regularly checks Rosa’s test results from the school’s online portal, and the A’s and A+ make him a proud father. The formal conversation between them usually underlines Rosa’s grades in 11th standard and how important they are for a bright future. In all between these conversations, Rosa looks exceptionally dull. There is a miss which remains a mystery for a brief interval.
Martin’s second wife, Marie, tries to live up to his husband’s expectations. She work-outs daily, maintains a healthy lifestyle, and looks after their violent kid, Mathis. Marie suffers pain, but she hides it under her smile and stillness. In the office, Martin exercises the exact expectations from his employees. Except, a young staff member, Pierre-Luc openly discusses the pressure Martin imposes on his workers. Martin is tense about an upcoming deal with Girard Buses that may earn a promotion. Still, he is expecting too much, like his inherent nature.
His world comes floating down when Martin is called to school by Rosa’s principal. Rosa has been cheating on her school tests, and the school staff recovered pills and drugs from her locker. She gets suspended until the final exams, and Martin is miffed.
Upon further scrutiny, parents discover that Rosa is suffering from chronic depression as she fails to fulfill her father’s expectations. The conflict widens the bridge between Rosa and Martin, who fail to communicate with each other until it’s too late.
‘The Guide to the Perfect Family’ Ending Explained
Martin took Rosa to her grandparent’s house, hoping nature would calm her stress. It did wonders to Rosa, but only she was never the problem. Martin failed to understand that he was the center of all conflict. When he lost his Girard Buses’ deal, Martin’s sense of failure kicked in, and like always. He channeled his expectations on his child, Rosa. Rosa was already on the verge of a breakdown.
In an emotionally thrilling sequence in the lake, Rosa blamed her father for the height of his expectations. She called Martin a loser who pressured people around him to meet specific goals and standards, which he wanted or wanted to achieve in life. For Martin, life was a game that was won by champions who sport excellent grades in each field. For Rosa, she was happy being average, and she didn’t mind. But with the mountain of expectations in between them, Rosa failed to express it. She left Martin’s house and started living with her birth mother, Caroline.
Rosa appeared in the final examination, but she zoned out. At home, Marie confronted Martin and expressed that she was tired of being a mother. She wanted Martin to help her and support her rather than being busy with his schedule and rat’s race pursuits. Martin was in a fix. He couldn’t think straight. He was too proud to accept his flaws, and without acceptance, there wasn’t any redemption.
Rosa failed her Math exam and tried to commit suicide by gulping down Caroline’s pills. When Caroline arrived at the apartment the following day, she found Rosa lying unconsciously. Rosa was admitted to the hospital, and fortunately, she was saved. Her suicide attempt became a turning point in Martin’s life, who realized that his daughter’s life was more important than his vanity and expectations. He finally understood that it was okay to be an average person in life. Martin accepted Rosa and her dreams. She once told Caroline that she wanted to be a photographer, and maybe, she would pursue that career.
A closing image depicted Martin, Mathis, and Rosa in the park enjoying ice-cream cones like an average happy family. Mathis ran towards the swing and fell. Martin stands to look after him, but Rosa stops her father. The gesture subtly underlined that we should let our kids grow on their own and sometimes held back our protective wings because too much care hinders the growth. Nevertheless, Martin learned his lesson, and hopefully, the other parents would too.
The Guide to the Perfect Family is a 2021 Drama Comedy film directed by Ricardo Trogi. It is in the French Language.