There was a scene that nearly broke my heart as I watched Alphee of the Stars last night at the Lightbox.
Hugo Latulippe is sitting across from his daughter, Alphee as they are travelling via train through a snow-covered Switzerland, and in a scene completely played in silence you can see as he watches his daughter all the thoughts that are crossing his mind, all the hopes and wishes he has for his daughter, all the things he hopes she will have, and perhaps fears she won’t.
The moment comes mid-point through the film and symbolizes a transition point not for Alphee, who suffers from a rare genetic disease known as Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, but for Hugo and the viewer, as he realizes it’s not she who has to change, but the world around her.
Alphee of the Stars is an intimate and personal look at Hugo’s wonderfully amazing daughter, but his family as well, and the idea that maybe not everything has to be rushed, perhaps, like this wonderful girl, we need to slow down sometimes and enjoy the world and people around us.
Alphee is an adorable 5 year-old full of innocence and childlike wonder, which never seems to diminish. She is surrounded by a family who loves her, defies the odds that were laid out for her, and lives life on her own term in a world populated with animals, bubbles and dreams, happily carting around her stuffed Simba.
She also tends to use the word ‘awesome’ a lot, and that makes her my kind of kid!
When the pace of Montreal seems a little much, and teachers are recommending Alphee be put in a program for intellectually challenged students before she even begins her formal schooling, her family decides to take a chance. They pack up, and move to Switzerland for a 1 year stay (which turns into 2), to focus on not only Alphee but themselves as a family.
Alphee starts in a small school, where she’s accepted and makes friends, her teachers adore her. She wanders the woods, talking to imaginary friends and animals, and accompanies her father as they explore the snow-covered peaks.
At its heart, the film is a love letter to his daughter, as Latulippe expresses his thoughts and dreams, worries and cares in an almost poetic verse, with a backdrop of gorgeous Switzerland and his daughters smiling face.
This one is bound to make you smile, maybe a little misty-eyed and see the wonder and the world through the eyes of an extraordinary little girl.
Alphee of the Stars screens again Wednesday May 1 ar 1:30pm at the Bader, and Saturday May 4 at 3:30pm at the ROM.