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Million Dollar Babies

Also known as Jumelles Dionne
English (1994)

Oliva Dionne: "Have you been to Quint-Land? Twice a day, my kids are put in a cage so strangers can stare at them. Now you tell me who's exploiting my kids."

In 1934, before the age of fertility drugs, multiple births were rare. Five identical baby girls born on a Canadian farm in the middle of the depression were practically a miracle.

Taken by the government and raised apart from their parents and other siblings, the Dionne quintuplets were kept in a special hospital built specifically for them, and exploited to an extreme that is outright shocking. They did numerous celebrity endorsements and were literally a tourist attraction, trotted out for audiences like performing animals in a circus. Was this abuse? Absolutely. And I'm not even counting the allegations that their nurses tied them up and locked them in closets.

Roy Dupuis and Celine Bonnier give fine performances as the beleaguered Dionnes. This was the first film that Dupuis and Bonnier did together, and they felt like a believable couple. Charged undeservedly with being bad parents and made into targets of international ridicule, the Dionnes were the bewildered and helpless victims of their government mostly because they were poor, French, and Catholic. I spent most of the movie rooting for the Dionnes to get their quintuplets back. And I could say more about that, but it would probably spoil the movie for you.

Beau Bridges also did a fine job as the dislikeable Dr. Dafoe, the "simple country doctor" who found it impossible to resist celebrity and control of the world's most famous babies. And I don't know how they did it, but they managed to find two sets of triplets that looked very much alike to play the Dionne quintuplets... and the girls also looked a great deal like Roy Dupuis and Celine Bonnier. Especially Bonnier. Excellent casting.

Three out of four stars,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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