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Atopia presents
Pow! Pow! Noel (2005)

"Will they call this courage, what's going to happen in this film?"
- Robert Morin

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: December 02, 2007

Stars: Robert Morin, André Morin
Other Stars: Monique Montigny, Ronald Guevremont, Pierre Turcotte
Director: Robert Morin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations and nudity)
Run Time: 01h:31m:29s
Release Date: December 04, 2007
UPC: 692074009104
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

What better way to kick off the Christmas Holiday season than to curl up next to your loved ones and watch a feel-good, seasonal movie, right? Most families, at this time of year, will pop their copy of The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, or even National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation into the DVD player. Other, more "open-minded" groups take this opportunity to view genre fare like Black Christmas (the original, hopefully) or even Silent Night, Deadly Night. The latter demographic will be just about the only target audience for Pow! Pow! Noel, one of the darker, more offbeat "Christmas films" you'll ever see.

Robert Morin is a man on a mission this Christmas Eve. Armed with a hand-held video camera, he descends upon a local hospital, explaining his plan as he makes his way to a patient's room. This patient is his father, André Morin, whom Robert clearly despises. André is extremely old and has enjoyed better days, as he's now battling autism and numerous other ailments. Still, Robert doesn't believe that his father should live another day, due to the heartache he has caused his entire family in the past. Unfortunately, a hospital isn't exactly the easiest place to kill someone, especially on Christmas Eve.

This is the ultimate polarizing film, at times filled with riveting, edge-of-your-seat exchanges between Robert and André. However, there are many sequences that are extremely difficult to watch, mostly involving the daily "care" that the nurses give the elder Morin. We see this poor man exposed, both literally and figuratively, hearing him scream as mere simple physical movements to us appear to be sheer torture to him. It turns out that Robert faces his own version of torture in his father's room, in the form of the numerous medical attendants that interrupt his plan every 15 minutes or so. At first, the doctors and nurses appear to be the primary obstacle against his plan, but when all is said and done, there are far more complex elements in his path.

The line between acting and real life is effectively blurred by Robert, who plays himself here, and also directed the film. Are the accounts here true? Does Robert really feel this way towards his father? We're never really given the relief or further horror that could result from the answers to these questions, but such ambiguity only adds to the film's effectiveness. Robert's motive is clear from the opening scene, but the dynamics that are slowly introduced through his interaction with André show a nice writing and directing flair.

Together, the Morins have given us an exercise in father-son dynamics that, while not exactly appropriate for such a festive time of year, is a necessary experience. They are part of an amazingly dysfunctional family, but in the end, we're left feeling a surprising amount of hope, despite the end result and carry-through of Robert's plan. There's barely a minute of this that is appropriate for the faint of heart or those with weak stomachs, but if you can handle a tough filmgoing experience, and like a little darkness, even around Christmas, then give this strange little movie a chance.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This full frame presentation looks as good as one can expect from something shot entirely on a hand-held video camera. Images are as detailed as possible, but there's never an instance where we can't tell what's happening on screen.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, and it's entirely dialogue-driven. Fortunately, the speech is crisp and clear, leaving nothing to the imagination.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Antlers, The Short Life of José Antonio Gutierrez, On the trail of Igor Rizzi, Imitation, Missing Victor Pellerin, Jimmywork
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra is a collection of trailers for other Atopia releases.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

While it's not exactly the right movie to get you in the Christmas spirit, Pow! Pow! Noel is a nice alternative to the feel-good family fare that dominates the holiday season. This little-seen film gets a chance at a wide audience via Atopia's DVD. The hand-held video looks quite good and the audio is adequate, but if you're looking for extras, you're in the wrong place.


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