Fanny & Romeo
Unfortunately when the biological clock goes off, there is no snooze button, and thirty-something Fanny, a freelance graphic artist, knows this all too well. While she obsesses about having children, her pragmatic partner, Fabien, thinks that saving more money should be their first priority. Fanny’s dire need to nurture takes her down a comical yet realistic path in Yves Pelletier’s Fanny & Romeo. The Quebec director, actor and comedian of Rock et Belles Oreilles fame has teamed up with award-winning artist Pascal Girard to create this modern-day love story, set in a small Quebec town.
Many women who have worked on their careers in their twenties with the hope of starting a family in their thirties will readily identify with Fanny and her uncontrollable urge to reproduce. Fanny not only prepares Fabien a full breakfast but also packs the allergy-prone real estate agent a peanut-free lunch. To make matters worse, their bungalow looks onto a street inhabited by young boys playing road hockey, with an ever-present golden retriever bounding back and forth. It’s all too much for this wannabe mom.
Fanny needs an escape and goes to the video shop where she runs into none other than Cedric, her two-timing ex. He’s with his new girlfriend who, as fate would have it, is expecting a child, something the two-timer refused to do with Fanny. After picking up a few films with mothering themes, she heads over to her friend’s apartment, and by chance, meets the irresistible Romeo, a fluffy orange tabby her friend has taken in but must give away. Fanny is immediately smitten with Romeo, much to the chagrin of Fabien, who is allergic to cats. As expected, Fanny’s mothering instinct takes over, and the feline drives a wedge between the couple. Fanny goes solo until she learns that cats, too, are fickle creatures.
Yves Pelletier has penned a story that will resonate with many people. We all know someone who wanted children but for whatever reason had to settle for a dog or cat. Fanny’s obsession with Romeo, her doting on him, bathing him and taking him in a backpack to sit on Santa’s knee are funny, particularly because we all know a few crazed cat lovers who would do this if kitty would allow them. However, Pelletier has used a third-person objective narrator, which prevents the reader from knowing Fanny’s thoughts and, consequently, from establishing a connection with the character. As a result, Fanny’s character is flat when it could have easily been fleshed out with a few more thought balloons or some interior monologue. The author also relies on dialogue to give information and advance the narrative. This works in fiction, but a lot of this information could have easily been given in the graphic component. In the end, the story comes across as the first draft of a great idea.
In terms of graphic elements, Pascal Girard has produced some nice water colours, particularly some great establishing shots. But there is a heavy reliance on the six-frame page, which at times becomes monotonous. In addition, too many of the frames are medium close-up and medium-long shots, which further create a distance between the characters and the reader. A few more close-ups zeroing in on expressions would have added some variety and necessary detail. Finally, the architectural style of the bungalow, the town centre and the apartment of Fanny’s friend felt more like the South Shore of Montreal than a small town. Instead, the reader pieces this together by the sheer number of times Fanny unwillingly runs into Cedric.
Overall, Fanny & Romeo is a good story with solid graphics, but the reader can sense that the writer and artist did not work closely together on this. As a result, this album does not reflect the talent of either artist, whereas closer collaboration would have probably yielded something truly remarkable.
This was crossposted at the Montreal Review of Books.
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