The Guide to the Perfect Family Plot Synopsis
The Guide to the Perfect Family is a movie that tackles the highs and lows of modern parenting. Behind the façade of social media statuses and hashtags are a wealth of issues that are made worse by Martin and Marie-Soliel’s parental pressure.
At the center of this is the strained relationship between Rose and Martin. But can these two patch up their differences or is this family doomed to fail?
Why does Rose act out and get in trouble?
Throughout the movie Martin is convinced that he’s got the perfect family. The truth is, he doesn’t. All of this pressure he’s been piling on daughter Rose soon comes to a head.
Rose is an average student but finds herself under pressure to become the best to appease her Father. She even has tutors coming after school to give her an extra edge. Unfortunately this also means she has no time to hang with friends and as such, ends up as a bit of a loner.
In order to get ahead, she buys test results in order to ace her exams. Unfortunately, she’s caught out by her teachers and suspended from school.
Now stuck at home, it soon becomes apparent that Mathis’ bad behaviour is not being punished like she is, and this only causes a further distancing between her and the family.
It’s not until a trip out to the countryside that Rose and Martin finally talk and begin airing out their concerns. Interestingly, this is also done while both are submerged in the lake. Water is usually symbolic of emotion so the fact this takes place here is indicative of the issues threatening to drown these two at any moment.
What happens to Rose? Does she pass her exams?
Rose eventually heads off to stay with her Mum after falling out with Martin. Rose’s Mother is not exactly a great influence though, taking Rose out to drink and hang out at a local bar.
Rose heads home that night while her Mother stays with a couple of her male friends. It’s here where Rose begins drinking alone.
Checking online she gets her test results back and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. She’s passed some of her exams (including a 97 for Physical Education) but she’s failed Mathematics.
This is a tough pill for her to swallow. It’s all too much for Rose and the foreshadowed glimpse of pills earlier in the movie comes back here. Rose grabs her Mother’s pills from her cupboards and overdoses in the bathroom. When Rose’s Mother finally returns home, she notices her daughter passed out on the floor and rushes her to hospital.
What makes Martin see the error of his ways?
Around the same time, Martin finally understands the error of his ways through a work colleague. Through most of the opening act of the film, Martin has been trying to encourage Pierre Luc to be a better version of himself.
When his father Paul arrives at the office asking to give Pierre Luc another chance, Martin learns the young worker has ADD. It’s an ironic assessment given the other colleagues at work encouraged him to get Rose tested for this.
Through talking to Paul, Martin realizes that it’s okay to be average and that’s not a reflection on one’s own parenting ability. In his desire to be the best and give his kids the best start in life, he’s lost sight of exactly what Rose wants.
When he finds out Rose is in the hospital, this is the tipping point and he races off to make sure she’s okay.
How does The Guide to the Perfect Family end?
The final scene cuts forward in time to see Martin taking Mathis and Rose out for ice-cream at the park. There’s no technology. No phones, iPads or cutaway shots of social media clips. Instead, the trio all sit and enjoy the sunshine. So where is Marie-Soliel?
Well, in an earlier scene we understand that she’s completely burnt out from trying to be the perfect Mum. Between a diet, doing the housework and raising Mathis, she’s had enough and needs a break.
This scene seems to indicate that Martin has come to an agreement with her, deciding to look after both kids and allow his work to take somewhat of a backseat to all this.
Mathis soon leaves the bench and races off to the swings. He trips and falls, with Martin instinctively wanting to go and help. Rose encourages him not to, which is a nod toward Marie-Soliel’s parenting where she’s been codling the child all this time.
Lo and behold, Mathis gets back up without crying. The film then ends with Rose and Martin sitting on a bench and watching Mathis on the swings.
Is there anything left unresolved?
Yes, the movie does have a few subplots that are left unresolved. One of these includes Marie-Soliel and Rose’s fractured relationship. This is never really resolved through the film but several times these two do come to blows. It’s perhaps a little disappointing we don’t see a scene with them together. However, with Marie-Soliel getting some much needed R&R, perhaps they’ve patched up their differences off-screen.
Likewise, Rose’s exams and future is left on a bit of a cliffhanger as well. While Martin wanted her to study hard and get a diploma, Rose is much more interested in pursuing photography. You don’t need any professional qualifications for that either, so it could well be that she applies for this in the future.
However, we’re left clutching at straws a little here given the ambiguous way this film ends.
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