Exquisitely shot, if at times almost dreamlike, this rewarding feature from acclaimed French actress Zabou Breitman has a lot to say about life, love and relationships and it says it beautifully.
For this is the story of model family man Frédéric, enjoying the summer sunshine of a holiday in the heart of Provence, alongside his wedded bliss of a wife Frédérique and their extended family. And all appears to be going to plan, until that is his new neighbour Hugo, a graphic artist by trade, turns both his heart and world upside down. As their twilight talks illustrating their opposing views on love, marriage, let alone the importance of family, makes for an ever increasing bond between the two, can Frédérique do anything to prevent the man of her life, becoming more than just the close friend and jogging partner of another?
At heart, akin to an unconsummated bromance, here co-writer Agnès de Sacy alongside writer and director Zabou Breitman have delivered an engrossing film based on a series of "the meaning of life" conversations between two men; one openly gay and single and the other, seemingly happily married. True, the "straight man turned gay" scenario is more than a familiar one, variants of which are as wide ranging as the like of Marco Filiberti's melodramatic David's Birthday to Marco Berger's captivating exploration of male friendship, that is Plan B. Yet what makes this variation on the theme so alluring is Breitman's attention to detail, contrasting grand vistas of the lush French countryside, rivers and sunflower fields, with theatrical set pieces, including a talented (the music of life) string quartet and an expertly staged tango sequence that is as artistic, as it is surreal.
Yet for all of its positives, this is a work that perhaps is just too creative for its own good, laced as-it-is with a series of off camera dialogue sequences, talking heads whose faces are oddly never shown, in-picture symbolism and somewhat unconventionally, alternative takes of the same scene, as we come to witness Hugo's initial arrival at the villa from the perspective of both parties. Thankfully its well played throughout by one and all, being as much a statement on the variance of human sexuality, as it is on the relationships of life, as Frédéric's attraction to the concept of love, is set against Hugo's reluctance to commit to anyone. Or so it would seem.
That said, it is the framing of this picture that stands out; from the portrait styled window of the musicians' cabin, to the positioning of an Adonis like "naked Angel" seemingly levitating in mid-air in Hugo's studio apartment. That the homosexual content of nightclub life and Hugo's one-night stands is never allowed to overshadow the underlying character study of the piece, results in the absorbing story of the developing friendship between two men; one gay and the other set to discover the sexual diversity of life. Brokeback Mountain without the sex and the homosexual heartache, indeed.
Gay Visibility - bromance like in style.
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek.
Overall - file under ... 4 stars.