›› THE FRENCH BOYS 2 short films compilation ‹‹

Hot on the heels of The French Boys short films compilation comes this second helping of French delights from the good folk at New Queer Visions
that this time around focuses on the realization of same-sex attraction by yourself and often, of the reaction to it from those around you.

›› Overall Duration - 92 mins | VOD Release Date - 14th December, 2021 ‹‹

›› posted: Friday, 4th March, 2022 ‹‹

›› Falling - Tomber ‹‹

a short film by Benjamin Vu.

2018 | 32 mins | France.

the burgeoning friendship between two pupils of differing interests.

Dave says:

In his debut work, writer and director Benjamin Vu focuses on the relationship between two students, who have more in common with each other, than what at first appears.

For here cue the life of Baptiste (Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant); captain of the school rugby team and who just so happens to be going out with the hottest girl in class. Unlike Léo (Solal Forte) who all but keeps to himself and for good reason too, having recently been on the receiving end of the homophobic wrath of those around him. Opposites in so many ways, the two find themselves having to work together for a joint presentation on the book The Fall / La Chute by noted philosopher and author Albert Camus. Suggesting that they work on their assignment at his home; rather than at school given his parents are away, Baptiste is taken aback to find Léo more interested in completing a model lighthouse for his father's upcoming birthday, than working on the project itself. With seemingly no subject taboo, they talk about films, music, indeed almost everything, given it's clear that Baptiste has something on his mind; something that only Léo would understand. But what?

Set in the winter of 1994 in the French suburbs and with many a poignant reflection on the book, including notably taking responsibility for your actions, this work has a lot to say and yet in spite of all of the words spoken, the narrative here fails to sparkle, even when it becomes apparent that the two young men share a connection beyond class. And that's a shame, given both actors are wonderfully natural in their differing roles, with Forte's character unashamedly gay, playing his sexuality as rightly just a part of who he is. Yet it's Le Vaillant who steals the show, his not so subtle eye movements vividly conveying the emotions of a young man wanting to get something off his chest, only for fate to forever get in the way of letting him say it, like it is.

In short and as well-played a piece as this is, including a twist in the tale styled ending, it's also a short film laden with a narrative that frankly fails to ignite, reducing it to all but a passionless cinematic study on the burgeoning friendship between two pupils of differing interests and aspirations. That it's filled with a series of opportunities that should have resulted with scenes of rampant sexual tension developing between the two young men, goes without saying, only for each one to be cast to the wind, even when Baptiste questions Léo as to why he thinks that kissing a guy wouldn't interest him? And answers on a postcard as to where that line should have taken the narrative, given come close-of-play you're left with the unanswered question of: did the two boys really spend all the night just working on their model assignment together?

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 3 stars

›› The Return - Le Retour ‹‹

a short film by Yohann Kouam.

2013 | 22 mins | France.

an achingly real depiction of discovering gay blood within the family.

Dave says:

From writer and director Yohann Kouam comes this achingly real depiction of discovering gay blood within the family.

For fifteen-year-old Willy (Adama Procida) cannot wait for the return of his elder brother Théo (Yann Gael) and the sooner, the better, given in his absence Willy has fallen in with the wrong crowd; namely a group of youths heavy into both racial and sexual prejudice. Yet something has changed between the two brothers, resulting in an emotional distance between them. Not that Théo is to blame, doing everything he can to mend the fraternal bond, ever wondering what became of the lovable kid brother he used to know? Only he's not to know that on a night out, Willy saw Théo getting it on with another guy. Trying to get his head around his brothers' homosexuality, Willy is all but a ticking time bomb ready to explode. The question is: will anyone be caught in his wake?

Well-played throughout, here Kouam has gone out of his way to showcase the inner turmoil of a young man desperately trying to make sense of the realization that the brother he has always looked up to, is gay. And not just him, but others around him, leaving a confused teenager literally lashing out at those who represent the very sexuality that he cannot comprehend and if anything, is afraid of. For what if he's gay himself? To that end, both Gael and Procida shine in their vastly differing roles, and yet it's the narrative that's the real star here, given this is one of those short films that frankly ends too soon, leaving some serious issues blowing in the cinematic wind, as if you've been deprived of the closing reel of a film.

Which in many ways is appropriate, given this work plays like a feature, showing the sickening reality of homophobia for what it is and the truth that for all of the legal advances made in gay rights in recent times, all too many gay men and women find themselves on the bloody receiving end of those who fail to appreciate the sheer beauty of sexual diversity. Need more be said?

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

›› Footing ‹‹

a short film by Damien Gault.

2012 | 18 mins | France.

the estranged relationship between a father and his openly gay son.

Dave says:

The estranged relationship between a father and his openly gay son is the theme of this engaging work from writer and director Damien Gault.

It tells the story of the return home of Parisian set designer Marco (Manuel Vallade) and his strained relationship with his father Jean-Claude (Philippe de Jacquelin Dulphé); namely a retired policeman who considers himself to be something of an action man, running marathons on an annual basis. Unlike his son who's clearly out of shape when the two venture out for a morning jog in the bleak winter countryside that surrounds them. Talking about almost everything, apart from Marco's fractured relationship with his boyfriend, it's only when an accident occurs that the two men are forced to confront the rift between them and to embrace each other again, as a loving father and son.

In many ways, this short film reminds me of the strikingly poignant Guillaume Mainguet short Vincent Before Noon, in that this work likewise is all about making amends with those you love, before time, ill health, or both take the opportunity away from you. Not that the relationship between the protagonists here is anywhere as cold as in Mainguet's cinematic outing, given it's obvious from the onset that the two men care for each other and yet the love between them has faded over the years, not so much due to the physical distance between them, but more on account of the lack of time they have chosen to spend in each other's company.

Both Dulphé and Vallade handle their differing roles beautifully in this nicely observed work and yet it's the compelling message of the piece that remains with you when the end credits have rolled; that of going out of your way to spend time with the ones you love. Need more be said?

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› The Swimming Trunks - Le maillot de bain ‹‹

a short film by Mathilde Bayle.

2013 | 20 mins | France.

a beautifully played tale of adolescent sexual awakening.

Dave says:

The realization of same-sex attraction is the theme of this endearing short film from writer and director Mathilde Bayle.

It tells the sweet story of ten-year-old Rémi (Roger Manning); a young boy on a seaside camping holiday with his family. Not that he spends much time with them; preferring instead to pass the time in the company of his newfound ami de vacances Léa (Inès Giardino); or rather in the company of her hunky father Stéphane (Stanley Weber). Fascinated by the thirty-five-year-old and yet not knowing why, the object of his affection is all but oblivious to the crush that Rémi has on him. Only with Léa's family set to leave before his, Rémi is determined to make certain that his time spent with Stéphane will be more than just a distant memory.

And no surprise for guessing how, given the answer lies in the title. Not that this is a spoiler, given it's all but obvious in what direction the narrative is heading. Yet therein lies the beauty of this work, one that sees Bayle mix the playfulness of a holiday and here cue scenes of poolside fun, alongside a child exploring the world around him, with a number of lush fantasy sequences, as Rémi all but dreams of the father Stéphane could be to him, given his parents' marriage would appear to be on shaky ground.

Seen entirely through a child's eye, this is a beautifully played tale of adolescent sexual awakening, with Manning wonderfully natural in the role. A pure delight.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 4 stars

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