King Dave: Growing Up

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Caring - about people, about things, about life - is an act of maturity.
-Tracy McMillan

A phase of life is like a chapter in a book. An introduction, an inciting moment, a climax, and a conclusion. One should grow from the experiences, change from the choices one has previously made? But what happens if someone doesn’t change? If someone never learns from their life experiences?

This film starts in a train station, focusing on a mother with her child. A man in construction gear walks down the steps and stands in the platform. Out of his peripherals he sees a kid being bullied. He stares. As the train comes by he watches as the kid gets pushed around. He boards silently, back facing the wall. As the doors close, he stops them from doing so.

This is Dave (played by Alexandre Goyette). The bullied kid was also Dave (played by Elie Stuart). He can only watch as his younger self gets beaten and tossed around like a ragdoll. There are three scenes in this station. The second one is in after a foot chase when Dave chickened. He explains his situation:

At the age of 13, he was in a private school. He wore a jacket he bought from a local church over last year’s uniform. He was a normal, introverted kid. After he was bullied, the thugs took his hacket, and his mother scolded him for it.

After that, young Dave wanted revenge. He wanted to make them feel as he felt: vulnerable, scared, ashamed. Dave still felt that drive for revenge, whether through failed relationships, personal grudges, or the shame he felt being belittled by others.

However, each time he did try revenge, it failed. For example, when he challenged Stanley after Stanley was getting sexual with his girlfriend, Nathalie, Dave became aggressive, looking for revenge. He overcompensated and was outdone by Stanley.

Even in his one success, burning down the forest in which Fix’s gang beat Dave, he didn’t really succeed as the gang was seen later in the train station. Each time Dave wants revenge he gets way over his head and each time only barely gets out.

The film’s narrative is presented in a unique matter: a fusion where Dave breaks the fourth wall while simultaneously experiencing the effects from the storyline. This allows us to understand what Dave does, how Dave thinks, while simultaneously seeing how these thoughts, these actions play in real life.

How his thought process changes throughout the film shows how Dave progresses through the narrative. At first he seems braggarty, posh, described as “trailer trash”. Yet, as the film goes on, he opens himself up more emotionally to the viewer. He describes his life, how he grows up. His conversations shifts from explaining facts and describing areas to more in-depth, emotional explanations that further plot. The continuity of the film also helps explain his current state of mind, from confused to drunk to raging, you get to see how the film visually reacts to Dave’s inner emotions.

Once it’s all said and done, Dave ends up in a holding cell, and is released. As he turns around to monologue, he talks about how he has changed, how he has control over his life. But the most shocking statement is how we, the audience, could not have expected this sudden shift. On one hand, Dave’s radical shift in thought is surprising to say the least. All this movie Dave has avoided taking responsibility for the consequence of his actions, such as the fire in Fix’s park or driving Nathalie away. Yet, Dave’s growing sense of guilt began to take a toll on his friendships and overall life quality.

When the move finishes, we get to see Dave’s full transformation: a man who can take responsibity for himself and his actions. His transformation’s penultimate moment, just as this film started, is to see the subway doors opening in front of him. Because caring is only an act of maturity.

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