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  • The title recalls the silent Rudolph Valentino classic 'Blood and Sand', and not without good reason: although made in France the film is set close enough to the Spanish border for some overlap of culture, in particular the corrida de toros. Strictly speaking, it isn't a bullfighting film at all, but more of a male bonding character study, about an ambitious matador who becomes disillusioned after befriending a sensitive doctor with a profound dislike of the sport dating back to his childhood during the Spanish Civil War. There's a teasing suggestion that their relationship might develop into something physical, and too bad it never does: it would have added an entirely new dimension to the standard toreador tradition of machismo. Writer director Jeanne Labrune's documentary training adds a vivid, unsettling realism to several bullfight and abattoir scenes, and newcomer Patrick Catalifo, as the troubled matador Francisco, shares some of Valentino's smoldering, photogenic intensity.

    (Postscript/apology: the above impressions were salvaged from a press screening in which several reels of the film were obviously jumbled. A report on the properly sequenced film might have read totally different.)
  • Manuel is a Spanish émigré to France. Now a doctor his family left Franco's Spain during the worst of the troubles (and only after his grandfather had been machine-gunned with other dissidents in the local bullring). He is now married with two young children and lives his life,as he confesses 'afraid of life'.

    Returning from the beach one Sunday Manuel meets Francisco, a popular, good-looking young matador. Although both men are straight, they are attracted to each other in some obscure way and start spending time in each other's company. While this attraction threatens Manuel's home-life, the threat to Francisco's way of life is even greater.

    While gay men who have spent time 'in the closet' will find much to identify with in this film, others may wonder why it was ever made. No mention of homosexuality is ever made but, for those whose 'gaydar' is finely attuned, the eroticism of these men's attraction couldn't be plainer. Although this film reminds me a lot of the work of Eloy de la Iglesia, it's directed by a woman. I was a bit surprised by that and unsure what her motivation in making this film was.
  • The build-up of sexual and emotional tension between the two men is riveting and suspenseful. Nicely acted, nicely produced. The story is interesting and unusual. And as a side note, the abbatoire scenes are enough to make anyone an instant vegetarian!