30 August 2015 | l_rawjalaurence
Very Funny Film About Gender Constructions That Loses the Courage of its Convictions
Directed by and starring the Comédie Francaise actor Guillaume Gallienne, ME, MYSELF AND MUM| offers the entertaining sight of one actor essaying the twin roles of Guillaume, the son; and his mother. She has had three children; two of them she regards as her sons, but Guillaume is the proverbial ugly duckling. This is chiefly due to his being uncertain about his sexuality - although born a boy, he thinks of himself either as a girl or a homosexual, he is not sure which.
The basic scenario leads to some comic complications, where Guillaume tries to behave like a girl but finds himself repudiated in a society that refuses to recognize the presence of gender difference. On occasions we are reminded of the classic sequence in Billy Wilder's SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), where Jack Lemmon, disguised as a woman, keeps repeating the phrase "I'm a girl, I'm a girl, I'm a girl" in a desperate attempt to convince himself that he should think like a woman.
But what precisely constitutes the difference between "male" and "female" behavior? This is what ME, MYSELF AND MUM sets out to explore through the ingenious use of doubling. The mother comes across as someone content to read books in bed, and walk out in public like a pea-hen, all feathers and flummery. Guillaume is so impressed with her self-assurance that it's hardly surprising he wants to emulate her. Yet it seems that Galienne (as director) sacrifices the courage of his convictions in search of a happy ending; having spent three-quarters of the film creating a highly successful comedy that exposes the cultural constructions underpinning our conceptions of gender, he opts to show how Guillaume is actually a full-blown heterosexual at heart. Once he finds the right girl, his "true" sexuality can emerge. Consequently the film appears nothing more than a rite-of-passage ritual, its tone highly reminiscent of Fifties Hollywood melodramas which showed "crazy mixed-up kids" learning the value of home and family life, despite their checkered pasts.
This is highly disappointing; because Gallienne (as an actor) is a highly talented individual, someone whose mannerisms are so brilliantly delineated in the playing of the two central roles that we understand how many so-called "democratic" societies try to create absolute distinctions between masculinity and femininity. Anything in between is regarded as deviant. We end up wishing that he had followed this argument through to the end, rather than tacking on a sentimental coda.