Far From Perfect
Being a parent is the toughest job in the world. As a Father of two, I can confidently say it’s the most euphoric, frustrating, tear-jerking and exhausting experiences you’re likely to have in your life. But ask most parents and they wouldn’t change it for the world – myself include.
Netflix’s latest dramedy, aptly titled Guide To The Perfect Family is – in its simplest form – a self-aware oxymoron. There is no such thing as a perfect parent; we all make mistakes. This film explores that idea and does so with mixed results.
The story here centers on an idyllic family living in Quebec, Canada. On the surface everything looks perfect. Martin has a successful job at a company called Greenlife. His daughter Rose is excelling at school and acing her exams.
Separated from his ex-wife, Martin’s current partner Marie-Soliel is still passionate with him and loves her son Mathis unconditionally. It’s one big happy family.
The truth is, these guys are anything but happy. Behind the social media statuses, the perfect family hashtags and big smiles is a family with a wealth of issues.
An issue at school with Rose is the catalyst for this drama to begin rolling out, essentially turning into a snowball of escalating drama as the family air out their issues across the following hour or so. It soon becomes apparent that there’s a lot under the hood, and these guys are just keeping up appearances for friends and family alike.
The real driving force of this movie though is the fractured relationship between Rose and her father Martin. With her birth Mum off on tour, she barely has time to see her daughter. Unfortunately Marie-Soliel is too busy coddling badly behaved Mathis to pay her much attention. So naturally she acts out.
This rift eventually spills over into a messy and intense fluffy of verbal spats as a small crack soon turns into a chasm of despair.
While the film does a decent job developing its themes (more on that in a bit), The Guide to the Perfect Family struggles to wrap up all its plot points in a satisfying way by the end.
It’s a somewhat ambiguous ending in truth and one that has conflicting ideas around exactly what this film wants to say. On the one hand, this dramedy has a message that it’s okay to be average. On the other hand, there’s a theme around becoming the best version of yourself and following your dreams. It’s a bit of a tonal clash to be honest.
Thematically though the film does an excellent job showing the stresses teens face. As someone who failed all their exams at school (minus English) I felt like my world was over. After all, teachers drill that message into you that your exams are the most important things in the world. They’re not, of course, but this movie does manage to capture that dread.
On that same subject however, Guide to the Perfect Family never fully resolves this plot point either, leaving it up to our imagination over what happens next. The movie also briefly touches on substance abuse and parental expectations but both of these are conveniently swept under the rug for a more straight forward father/daughter relationship.
Where the film is more effective however is in Martin’s journey to become a more attentive father. It’s a character journey we’ve seen a million times before but it works just as effectively here too.
As a realistic slice of life drama showing the trials and tribulations of being a parent, The Guide to the Perfect Family is anything but perfect. It does an okay job with its various characters but the movie bungles its ending and resolving its numerous subplots. This is still an enjoyable watch though, but one can’t help but feel it could have been so much more.