The Man I Love
I feel so guilty. This should be the perfect gay movie: romantic, funny, strong plot, great acting. It left me quite unmoved. It seemed a complete muddle to me, what it was trying to say.
Martin is gay and dying of AIDS. He falls for a work colleague, the local lifesaver at a pool, Lucas. The only trouble is, Lucas is straight. However, Martin works his charms on him, gets him to leave his girlfriend, move in with him, marry him and nurse him through the end of AIDS.
Wow, you must be thinking, this Martin must be utterly gorgeous. Or if heís not, he must be the sweetest most irresistible guy in the world.† Well, no, heís probably the most irritating character Iíve ever watched in a movie. Heís the sort of the guy that thinks itís funny to fill a public pool with fish, or surface under people learning to swim and scare them half to deathóbut itís okay, she was a fat woman, so she can be a figure of fun. After all, Martin has AIDS and every allowance must be made for him. He can ruin peopleís lives but itís okay, heís got AIDS. Iíve never seen AIDS used in a movie before to blackmail someone into sleeping with them out of guilt. But it was in this one. Oh, but they donít make Martin actually look as if heís got AIDS, that would kinda hard to fit in with the premise that a straight guy would fall in love with him. So the whole premise that Lucas would fall for him is just ludicrous. Acting up and being dumb isnít funny, even if youíve got AIDS.
Think Norman Wisdom on a bad day and youíve got Martin summed up.
Iím really quite angry about this movie, because it has so much to offer. It could have been very moving. The other actor who plays Lucas gives a quite amazing performance. It canít be easy trying to be convincing as a totally straight guy at the beginning of the film to a gay husband at the end, but he does it very credibly. Heís never over the top and very honest in his genuine confusion at his own movies.
So, you might adore this movie. Maybe itís just me and this damn character Martin. I mean, even his out of tune whistling drove me crazy. Sheesh, he was even whistling in heaven. Shudder.
(LíHomme que Je Líaime)
This is a delightful bittersweet romantic comedy that celebrates love as the true meaning and purpose of life.† It has convincing performances from the young actors playing the central parts, and strong support from female characters.† Wonderful settings in and around Marseilles, warm sunshine and bright colours, make the film a visual treat.† Its message, ĎWeíre all the same but some are gayer than othersí, is affirmative, though thereís poignancy and sadness too so have your hanky ready.
Martin gets a job at a municipal swimming pool where he meets a cute blond lifeguard called Lucas.† Instantly attracted to Lucas, he doesnít waste time before making advances. Martin is gay, in both senses of the word, exuberant, charming and playful, good fun.† He annoyed me at first but he won me over.† Lucas is quiet and subdued, focused on perfecting his diving technique through extra hours at the pool.† He has a fiancťe, Lise, but doesnít look happy.† Heís threatened by Martin, openly hostile to the idea a man can be attracted to another man.† His body language is tight and heís emotionally closed off.† But Martin doesnít take no for an answer.† Does he recognise something about Lucas he doesnít know himself?†
Lucas isnít entirely honest.† Lise is more serious about their relationship; heís going through the motions with a partnership more friendship than love.† His troubled confusion as he realises his feelings for Martin are stronger than for Lise is handled beautifully.† Itís lovely to see how Martin brings Lucas out, animates him, though he has a serious side, and more reason than most to favour carpe diem.†
This is a film that doesnít feel the necessity to fill every scene with words.† The gay man seducing the straight guy scenario couldíve been clichťd or unbelievable, but it works here.† We watch Lucas acknowledge his desire, moments where he touches his own body the way he longs to caress Martin, awkward attempts to make love with Lise when we know who he really wants.
Martin is a sympathetic character, despite being a home-wrecker, though I felt sorry for poor Lise.† He wonít allow Lucas to waste his life.† We donít know if Lucas is gay or just loves Martin, and it doesnít matter.† Lucas isnít ever going to be the same again.† His relationship with his doctor father is distant and strained, pointedly contrasts with Martin and his colourful mother, Rose, fiercely protective like a lioness with her cub.†
The film doesnít join all the dots.† Is it coincidence that Martin already knew Lucasí father?† Did he get the job at the pool in order to seduce Lucas?† There isnít much sex or nudity but Martin & Lucas make a believable couple, increasingly intimate and affectionate, though Lucas is realistically uncomfortable in public, at a gay bar for example.† I donít want to give away too much so thereís a lot I canít say about the story.† But I really enjoyed the movie and cried at their wedding ceremony like Rose.†
Yet again we see attraction has nothing to do with gender or labels of sexual identity.† Love is something rare and special, and life too short to waste opportunities for happiness.† Yes, love makes Martin & Lucas vulnerable but just seeing them together we know itís worth it.† Highly recommended.† (French with English subtitles)