a film by Robert Salis
2004 | 108 mins | France
›› Grande École
a sexually intense tale of life and love.
Grande École by Robert Salis From writer and director Robert Salis comes this intellectual and sexually intense tale of life and love.

Set within the dormitories and lecture rooms of a select business school where the future corporate heads of France are destined to graduate from, we encounter Paul; a young man in love with his girlfriend Agnès, only to become increasingly obsessed with the good looks of his athletic roommate Louis-Arnault, in spite of the man himself being all but engaged to the beautiful Emeline. Sensing that something is different with her boyfriend, rather than get angry Agnès makes a deal instead, daring Paul to seduce Louis-Arnault before her, in a case of the winner takes it all. Only in playing mind games, Agnès hadn't counted on Paul crossing social divides, Maurice style, courtesy of getting intimately acquainted with working class Muslim Arab handyman Mécir. One man - three loves. Question is - who will he choose?

Grande École by Robert Salis Adapted from the noted stage play by Jean-Marie Besset, set against the stunning backdrop of Paris by night and scored with the classical melodies of Bach, Bizet and Brahms, amongst others, Salis in keeping with many of the theatrical aspects of the piece, presents a stunningly sexy multi-layered feature. Laced with lingering shots of the male physique that are countered by a damning indictment of financial greed, this is equally a film not afraid to speak in length on the torturous abuse of human rights, racism, social castes and of escaping what at times appears to be your predetermined place in society.

Said by some to be a coming out work, that it is in part, this is more a philosophical exploration of the mind and the choices that we are faced with, that so often determine our path in life. It is a story ingrained with sexual tension, as Paul, sharply played by Gregori Baquet becomes all too aware of his homosexual heart and like the object of his infatuation, the disgrace upon his family that even one indiscreet "caught looking" glance in the locker room showers would bring.

Occasionally surreal, profoundly homoerotic, including a mirrored lovemaking sequence and complete with a copious degree of full frontal male nudity, this ode to same-sex love is but a variation on the eternal love triangle theme and with all parties content to play with relationship fire, you know that come the end reel someone is certain to get burnt, in a conclusion that whilst heavy in ideology and open ended, remains all but clear as to the direction that Paul's desire is taking. And I dare say, possibly with whom, given Salim Kechiouche of Le Clan fame steals both the show and your heart as love-struck Mécir. Need more be said?

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the copious full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue.
screened as part of the 19th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, 2005.
starring: Gregori Baquet / Paul, Alice Taglioni / Agnès, Jocelyn Quivrin / Louis-Arnault, Élodie Navarre / Emeline, Arthur Jugnot / Chouquet,
Salim Kechiouche / Mécir and with the participation of Eva Darlan / Mrs Chouquet, Lakshantha Abenayake / the Imprisoned Journalist,
Yasmine Belmadi / Ouvrier, Jacques Collard / the Guest, Jo Prestia / the Foreman and Jamal Hadir as Mécir's Brother.
Copyright 2011 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #418
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