›› Like a Brother - Comme un frère
a film by Bernard Alapetite and Cyril Legann.
2005 | 55 mins | France.
principal players: Benoît Delière / Sébastien - Zack, Thibault Boucaux / Romain, Johnny Amaro / Bruno, Adeline Ishiomin / Marine, Amandine Maugy / Sophie, Gaëtan Borg / Laurent, Patrick Esilva / David and Michel Derville as Sébastien's Father.
Adapted Synopsis: "Living in the seaside resort of La Baule, Sébastien is a small town boy
yearning for the sexual freedom of the big city, a need that sees him move to Paris without a single word of goodbye to one and all. Soon to explore the night life that the French capital has to offer, it is only when Romain, a close friend from back home calls to say he's coming to Paris, that Sébastien is forced to confront feelings long thought suppressed."
Overflowing with same-sex pride, here we find joint writers / directors Bernard Alapetite and Cyril Legann delight in crosscutting their coming-of-age tale with seemingly endless flashbacks to Sébastien's earlier life; that of a time spent as part of a group of teenagers that included his close friend and object of desire, Romain. Yet move on a year and the Sébastien that was is now calling himself Zack, having dived head first into the deep end of chat-line styled hook-ups and a series of sexually charged Parisian encounters, scenes of naked man-sex that are as passively passionate, as they are shot way too dark. Only Sébastien's mind keeps drifting back to times that were, his coastal hometown and his buddy-buddy friendship with Romain.
Clearly besotted by the Adonis like looks of the youth himself, their deep bond walks a bromance styled tightrope, with "officially straight" (he has a girlfriend) Romain being all but at ease in Sébastien's company; from playful times spent on the beach, to sharing the same bed together, their friendship is one longing for a kiss and more. Beautifully enacted, it is here that the Alapetite / Legann pairing vividly paint a sweet 'n' tender picture of teenage camaraderie and of a young man's lust for his best friend. Indeed in terms of cinematography, the flashback sequences have a deliberate washed out / memory feel to them, with the screen only coming alive in vibrant colour during the Zack, sexually confident gay man, period of Sébastien's life.
Sampling the sexual freedom of Paris in Like a Brother.
Sure, we've seen this scenario before and in numerous French outings. But that said, such does not diminish the merits of the film, given this is a worthy entry to the coming out genre, painstakingly detailing sexual coming-of-age, both mental and physical, and of tentative steps to find love amid all of the sex in the city. Yet in a story of sexual acceptance, not just from Sébastien's perspective, but equally from the paternal side, with Sébastien's father not only shown opening up his "just know I'm here for you" arms of support to his "I'm gay" son, but his apartment as well, the issue of unrequited love is never far away. Only here, the question beckons - for whom? For with a running time of fifty-five minutes and like many a good short, this film leaves you yearning for more and in particular of the Sébastien / Romain relationship.
The boy he left behind in Like a Brother.
Interestingly and in spite of a wonderfully natural performance, this surprisingly marks the sole cinematic appearance to date by Thibault Boucaux in the role of all round cutie Romain, a fate that oddly befell star of the show Benoît Delière, unlike actor Johnny Amaro who as Sébastien's lover Bruno went on to show you every inch of the man he is - literally, in the sexually explicit feature Q / Desire. As for this title, well and like the other solid gay works by Cyril Legann, such are worth checking out, that is, if you can find them! C'est la vie, as the French would say.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the dark monty.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.