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Canadian Film Fest Review: How to Get My Parents to Divorce

March 30, 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.

In How to Get My Parents to Divorce, a family movie from Quebec that plays like a clever inversion of The Parent Trap, adolescent Justine (Charlotte St-Martin) is tired of her lawyer parents Julie (Isabelle Blais) and Martin (Pierre-Luc Brillant) fighting all the time, and thinks it would be better for everyone if they ended their marriage.

After a trip to youth court doesn’t pan out (she is gently told she has no legal authority to dissolve her parents’ marriage on their behalf), the sixth grader decides to hold her own “real” trial at the school’s end of semester talent show, by putting her mom and dad on the stand. Justine enlists the help of her best friends Theo (Liam Patenaude) and Claudia (Charlie Fortier) to assist with the trial, and they audition other students to play the roles of witnesses, lawyers, and a judge to hear her case.

Directed and co-written by Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers in her feature debut, How to Get My Parents to Divorce is a consistently entertaining family movie that finds a good balance between being quirky and sweet. While the story is built around Justine’s child-like misinterpretation of the law, what works about the film is that there is a cleverness to it as well in how it shows the kids attempting to build a case and recreate an actual courtroom, and the youngsters do show a precocious savviness through their own (albeit basic) understanding of how the judicial system operates.

The kids take their roles very seriously as they try to gather enough evidence to build their case for why divorce is the best option for Justine’s parents, leading to some delightfully awkward moments of cringe comedy that also scratch at harder truths. The story, of course, allows for deeper life lessons as Justine confronts the real reasons why her parents have been fighting, and the conclusion is appropriately heartwarming.

With a solid cast of child actors who all nicely fill out their roles, How to Get My Parents to Divorce is a real charmer, that is the perfect length at just over eighty minutes. It’s a rare but welcome middle school movie that is good for kids in how it raises conversations about serious topics in an age-appropriate way, and very enjoyable for adults as well.

Charlotte St-Martin in How to Get My Parents to Divorce

How to Get My Parents to Divorce screens on Thursday, March 30th 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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