Daily Archives: August 22, 2013

The Handyman (1980)

the handyman

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: He’s unlucky in love.

Armand (Jocelyn Berube) is a chump of the first order. Everything he plans or does never seems to work out. He writes a letter to his mother describing how he has finally gotten himself married and how ‘he won’t die a bachelor’ only to have her walk out on him after only a few months. He tells his best friend the secret place where he hides all of his money and then the next day the friend steals the money. He brings in a new roommate only to have that man listen in to his private phone calls and when he does meet an attractive woman who he thinks is interested he gets her a romantic gift only to have her and her friends laugh at him behind his back. “The world is made up of two types of people,” he states “Those that take and those that are taken and I tend to be the latter.”

Things seem to improve for him when he gets a job fixing up the house for bored and attractive housewife Therese (Andree Pelletier). She is unhappy with her marriage to Bernard (Gilles Renaud) who is indifferent to her feelings and more interested in his golf game than her. She considers Armand’s unpretentiousness refreshing and Armand of course becomes immediately smitten. The two make an attempt at an affair, but as usual Armand gets in over-his-head.

One of the things that really stands out in this movie is the way Armand and Therese’s relationship unfolds. In most movies it always seems like love at first sight and both people get animalistic urges that they can’t contain and impulsively jump into the sack, but here it is much different. For one thing their attraction for one another progresses at a much slower and more realistic pace and does not come to a head until after several months. Both parties are shown contemplating their next move and their desire for one another is constantly being balanced by their reluctance at knowing how much trouble and guilt they will have if they do go through with it. How they respond to each other after they have sex is equally revealing and the quirky relationship that Armand later has with Therese’s husband is also quite interesting.

Although I felt that actor Berube’s bushy mustache and 70’s hairstyle seemed a little overdone I still found the character to be highly amiable. You tend to feel for the guy even after he makes one blunder after another. Actress Pelletier is certainly attractive, but her thick Nordic accent was a bit of a turn-off although probably realistic for the region.

My only complaint from this otherwise widely hailed low budget obscurity is the fact that the Armand character doesn’t grow or evolve at all. This is a man that knows he has a weakness for being taken advantage of, but doesn’t do anything about it. Watching him perpetually self-destruct to the point that he finds himself living out of his car and even contemplating jumping off a bridge is frustrating and depressing. Showing him having just one defining uncharacteristic moment where he somehow manages to transcend himself would have been much more satisfying and in some ways more realistic.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: March 14, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Micheline Lanctot

Studio: Les Films Reno Malo

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