Drole de Felix

Ladymol's Review

If you see one French film from those we’ve reviewed, then this has to be it. Deceptively simple, this film is the definition of feel-good.

Felix, a barman on the channel ferries looses his job at the same time as he discovers his long lost father’s address. Having some time on his hands whilst his boyfriend, Daniel, is still teaching, Felix decides to go to Marseilles and see his father.

He tells Daniel that he’ll meet him in five days time, when the term ends, and takes off.

What Daniel doesn’t know is that Felix has decided to walk and hitchhike from Normandy where they live to Marseilles. 

On the way he meets a series of people he calls My Brother, My Grandmother, My Cousin and My Sister. In a short time, sometimes just a day and a night, these people do become his new family. 

Open, friendly, engaging, Felix befriends people easily. He’s trusting and joyous and that joy spreads out to touch the people he meets.

The scenery in the film is just wonderful, the script witty and entertaining. The actor playing Felix is so lovely that by the end of the film you’re almost as in love with him as Daniel—but not quite. This must be one of the sweetest portrayals of love I’ve seen for ages. Understated, gentle but utterly convincing, Daniel and Felix will steal your heart.

I’ve deliberately not mentioned that Felix is HIV positive as most other reviews that I’ve seen of this movie do. Why? It’s not relevant to the story, unless you want to see his physical journey as a metaphor for his condition. If so, then this film is an antidote for the dismal portrayals usually reserved for films about HIV or AIDS.

Watch and enjoy.

Cerisaye's Review

Félix is a newly unemployed sailor from Normandy who lives with his teacher boyfriend, Daniel.  Losing his job and his mother’s recent death leaves Félix restless, questioning his life and future. 

Therefore it seems like destiny when he discovers letters to his mother, post marked Marseilles, from the man who abandoned them when Félix was a baby.  Félix decides to trace his father to satisfy his yearning for something lost. 

Félix buys Daniel a train ticket for when his holiday starts in five days, then hitches south.  Along the way meeting people he sees as brother, sister, grandmother and father, casual encounters that reveal more than blood ties connect us:  how we interact with people matters more to personal happiness than any fantasy of family life. 

This is a feelgood movie that’s just delightful.  It features an outstanding performance from the adorable Sami Bouajila as Félix- you will fall in love with him, trust me-ably supported by a solid cast.  As Félix travels south we see beautiful French countryside and the whole thing just skips along, with an upbeat soundtrack to set the mood.

Félix is a happy chap.  His relationship with Daniel is open and loving.  They’re demonstrative, unafraid to show in public they’re a couple- watch the looks they get from staff in a restaurant.  Daniel cares for Félix.  He’s against the trip, afraid his lover will get hurt if his father rejects him again.  But he has to let Félix go.  Their scenes together show a beautiful relationship, sexy and tender, relaxed and very real.

There’s a darker edge to the film, reflecting reality for a gay French Arab who confronts homophobia and racism.  When Félix witnesses a violent crime he’s scared and understandably reluctant to come forward to the authorities.  It gives him another reason to leave town.

My favourite sequence features an old lady, for whom Félix demonstrates his ability to conjure the sun on a cloudy day.  He refuses to satisfy a horny young art student, but doesn’t pass up the chance to frolic naked in a flower meadow with a rugby player type.

Félix travels light, with few belongings and a rainbow kite, symbol of gay pride, a fine touch typical of an understated film.  Félix charms everyone, touching their hearts, as he will yours. 

Incidentally, Félix is HIV+, something that’s part of him like the colour of his skin.  It’s good to see a quietly positive depiction of living with the disease, which shows also that it’s not just an issue for gay men.

The ending worked for me.  Félix and Daniel reunite for a romantic holiday, strengthened by Félix’s journey of self-discovery.  I really enjoyed the movie and I know you will too.  It’s funny and sexy, warm and unsentimental.  A thoughtful exploration of relationships that don’t fit the conventional norm.   Though whether Félix finds his father I’m not saying.  I rate this one a not-to-be-missed *****.

Drole De Felix [2000] is available from Amazon Uk here