15 August 2008 | dedwardloftin-1
Marvelous Non-Hollywood film making
This is a beautifully made film. The acting and production values are superb. I think the reason that some reviewers have difficulty with this film is just that it's a very simple film...It's about three young men dealing with the loss of their mother, and a father who has lost his wife. Each brother finds his own way to deal with his loss; one through drug abuse and self injury, one becomes his father, and another discovers the courage to express his desires. Morel allows the characters to breathe, and respects us enough to expect us to pay attention to visual clues which are equally important as spoken dialog, without spelling out all the details. Morel is masterful at depicting the emotional tone between individuals and groups. For instance, the scene in which Christophe has just come home from prison is extremely complex. There's a great deal of homo-erotic nuance between the brothers and their friends in this scene. While Morel creates a space for it, and fully inhabits it, he never feels a need to make a point of it, to make a statement. There's simply no need for that. It's not that they are gay or straight, but precisely that the lines between gay and straight are rather fuzzy between these good friends. Putting that message into words would create a self conscious tone in the film which could destroy the dense fabric of emotional ambiguity in which the brothers live. It may well be that part of the brothers emotional problems have to do with the intensity of their feelings for each other, and their fear of expressing them, as well. All three have shortcomings, and none find a way to fully escape the trauma that defines their family. In the end, the ironic point is that the slave dancer is free enough to take a principled, self respecting stand to end a demeaning relationship, yet the three brothers who look down on him are enslaved to their past.
The plot(and there is one) is entirely subservient to the emotional issues of the characters. If you're looking for a plot driven movie, this film has a plot, but the issues that drive the plot are almost entirely internal. This is a film not primarily about events, but how people respond to events and the ways in which their responses shape their lives. Viewed from that perspective, this is a unique and powerful film.