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Liverpool: Toronto Review

Liverpool Toronto Film Still - H 2012

The Bottom Line

Flimsy but cute adventure sends an ill-equiped young woman off after a ring of mobsters.

Venue

Toronto International Film Festival, Special Presentations

Cast

Stéphanie Lapointe, Charles-Alexandre Dubé, Louis Morissette

Director-Screenwriter

Manon Briand

Manon Briand's mystery-romance follows a coatcheck girl whose good deed goes terribly wrong.

TORONTO — A lightweight mystery-romance set not in the Beatles' hometown but around a Montréal nightclub of the same name, Manon Briand's Liverpool follows a coatcheck girl whose misguided attempt at a good deed turns up a massive e-waste conspiracy operating out of the city's port. Its sweetly shy heroes are difficult to dislike, but their fumbling adventure is best suited to the small screen.

Stéphanie Lapointe plays Émilie, a girlie-voiced wallflower who watches nightly as innocent-looking Tom (Charles-Alexandre Dubé) visits the club and goes home alone. Tom pines for her as well, but they don't meet until Émilie gets embroiled in a strange mess involving a dying rich man, his greedy son, and Clara, the man's long-lost daughter. Packing up his chubby vintage Fiat with every gizmo Apple currently has on its product-placement list, Tom sets out to help Émilie find Clara.

Clara's been kidnapped, lest she show up to claim her half of the old man's estate. As they hunt for her at her college campus, the young sleuths engage in a flurry of social-media connection-seeking that makes Briand look pretty proud of herself: I know all about this texting stuff, the scene seems to say.

But Briand knows the downside of tech as well, and works a real-world ecological concern -- the illegal export of dead electronics, whose toxic components turn Third World villages into cancer hotspots -- into the plot as the roundabout cause of Clara's kidnapping.

Briand and her cast don't take any of this too seriously, as all the gumshoe work is just an excuse for Tom and Émilie to bond. But nobody told composer Ramachandra Borcar, whose Bernard Herrmann-like score places a blanket of seriousness atop the perky action. A different approach here would've had quite an impact, as is witnessed by scenes in which likeably kitschy '60s pop accompanies the action.

Production Company: Max Films
Cast: Stéphanie Lapointe, Charles-Alexandre Dubé, Louis Morissette
Director-Screenwriter: Manon Briand
Producers:Roger Frappier, Luc Vandal, Felize Frappier
Director of photography: Claudine Sauvé
Production designer: David Pelletier
Music: Ramachandra Borcar
Editor: Richard Comeau
No rating, 112 minutes