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Canadian Film Fest Review: Babysitter

March 28, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2023 Canadian Film Fest runs from March 28th to April 1st, with films screening in-person at Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto and virtually on Super Channel Fuse.

An absurdist comedy about gender politics that segues into being a psychosexual suburban fantasy, the Quebec film Babysitter is an entertaining and stylized portrait of a man’s life spiralling out of control as he is forced to confront his sexist ways.

Cédric (Patrick Hivon) is a brash, middle-aged engineer whose dumb and impulsive decision to kiss a female reporter on live TV during a drunken weekend out with his friends puts him at the centre of an online firestorm. This sets into motion a series of events that causes him to be fired from his job, leaving him at home with the young daughter that he has with his partner Nadine (Monia Chokri).

To help with childcare as he tries to get his job back through public apology, Cédric hires Amy (Nadia Tereszkiewicz), a young nanny who serves as an almost fantastical wish-fulfilment figure for the whole family. Meanwhile, Cédric and his brother Jean-Michel (Steve Laplante) embark on a grandiose, self-serving mission of writing a book apologizing to all women for their misogyny, to assuage their own sense of guilt.

Directed by Chokri, working from a screenplay by Catherine Léger who adapts her own stage play for the screen, Babysitter is a film that embraces a sense of heightened realism to explore these themes. The film’s opening sequence when the inciting incident occurs is shown in frantic closeups, which gives way to the more eccentrically composed wide shot tableaus of later scenes. Despite seeming loosely inspired by the unfortunate real life trend from several years ago of men shouting sexist comments behind female newscasters, the film plays out as much more of a surreal comedy than it is a social issue drama, but this doesn’t mean its observations aren’t sharp.

Within its exaggerated scenarios and increasingly hazy sense of reality, Chokri’s film does make some salient observations about sexism, traditional gender roles, and who gets to define misogyny, in its own roundabout, bizarro sort of way. The result is an often funny film that feels inspired by both European arthouse cinema as well as other sexually-charged camp classics, buoyed by Tereszkiewicz’s captivating and appropriately slippery performance as both temptress and sexually empowered young woman.

Nadia Tereszkiewicz in Babysitter

Babysitter is the opening night film of the Canadian Film Fest, and screens on Tuesday, March 28th at 7:00 PM ET, at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto and on Super Channel. Tickets and more information can be found right here.

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