Presque Rien (Come Undone)
Unusually, Iíve done some surfing and read some other reviews for this film before I made up my mind aboutónot that I wasnít sure I enjoyed itÖI did, a lot. I was unsure exactly what I was watching, and wanted to sort things out in my mind first.
Seventeen year old Mathieu, on holiday with his family at the coast, meets seventeen year old Cťdric. The two begin a passionate affair Ė the first gay one for Mathieu.† Their romance plays out amongst the beaches of the French coast, the sand dunes and the amusement parks and they quickly come to place where they donít want to part when the summer is over.
However, this is not a linear film. Interwoven with the seventeen-year old story are two others with Mathieu and Cťdric slightly older. There is no transition between these various strands of the story and as the actors look almost identical in all of them, itís almost impossible to work out cause and effectówhich is usually the mainstay of any solid plot. However, in this film, it really didnít spoil my enjoyment of the film that I didnít really understand why things worked as they did. I think itís deliberateóthat they donít show some of the critical parts of the story. Itís like lifeÖ sometimes you just donít know why things happen as they do.
The cinematography is wonderful. The two lead actors are quite astoundingly good. Stťphane Rideau already an established star in France, Jťrťmie ElkaÔm less well known. They are totally believable as the boys, as well as the slightly older young men who have been touched by experience.
The supporting cast is rather goodóthat enigmatic chic kind of woman only the French seem to be able to produce. They support the film without detracting from the main action: the boys.
The gay elements are very sensual throughout, some glorious, prolonged kisses, rolling naked in the surf and one graphic sex scene on the beach.
One of the most honest and best coming out films Iíve seen. Well worth seeing.†
I saw this film a while ago but mustíve forgotten to review, so I got it again.† Not a bad thing because itís not easy, with a confusing 4-strand (I think) timeline. A melancholy look at love, loss and depression that leaves the viewer to connect the pieces into a coherent narrative, itís not exactly satisfying as it leaves too many questions unanswered, but haunting and beautiful so definitely worth watching.
When the story opens it is winter and Mathieu has just left hospital.† He goes to Brittany where heíd spent the summer nearly two years before.† A student from Paris, he fell in love with Cedric, a high school dropout who works the season selling waffles in the small coastal resort where Mathieuís family has a holiday house.†
Mathieuís family is in crisis, like the one in Le Clan ( Stephane Rideau who is Cedric here plays Christophe in that film).† That theyíre affluent professional middle class doesnít help.† His mother is profoundly depressed and is being looked after by a close friend.† His younger sister is sullen and withdrawn.† We never meet Mathieuís father back in Paris, who canít deal with whatís happened, a tragedy that has shattered the family. Mathieu is dead inside, no feeling- we see him try to coax an erection in the bath.† Gradually we learn what has happened- if not WHY.†
Itís not as simple as a failed love affair.† The story isnít really about Mathieu & Cedric (though I enjoyed those bits most). We see things only from Mathieuís POV: itís plain Cedric doesnít want to let go but he has no option.† I assumed (wrongly I think) Cedric had been unfaithful- he has a fight with a previous lover, Pierre, and admits to having hustled to get by- or it was a summer affair and neither wanted real commitment, each from different worlds.†
Meeting Cedric made Mathieu realise heís gay and that only made things worse at home, where thereís already so much tension everyone is on edge.† Cedric for a while gives Mathieu a release, but itís not enough.†
Itís a very atmospheric film, a study in contrasts, between moody present (Mathieu introspectively alone in Brittany trying to heal), all drab muted colours and melancholy music, set in cold dead winter, and the vibrancy of summer- beach, funfair, nightlife, skinny-dipping and making love under moonlight- with warm bright light, hopeful and happy, passionate and alive.
Itís frustrating because I didnít feel I understood Mathieu and his motivations.† I think he ended it with Cedric simply because he wasnít in a place for love, just too messed up emotionally by his family situation.† That depressed people are needy and selfish (numbed by medication and suffering) is well established through Mathieuís mother who has retreated from life.† Damaged like her, Mathieu has no room for Cedric, even though he loves him.† No oneís fault, it just IS.† Though we get hints it wouldnít have lasted anyway, like a trip to a ruined chateau where Mathieu wants to look at he ruins while Cedric only wants to make out.
Then thereís the odd subplot where Mathieu takes up with Cedricís ex, a relationship thatís implied might develop further since Mathieu has decided by the end to stay on in Brittany for the winter.† So the story actually ends on a surprisingly positive note, with Mathieu accepting heís gay and trying to put his life back together.
The film is very naturalistic, which is why itís painful because itís so real.† Jeremie Elkaim is excellent as Mathieu, a beautifully measured performance- like Heath as Ennis so much is in his face and body language.† Stephane Rideau, too, is very convincing.† It has some really nice sex scenes, actually quite explicit, and a fair amount of nudity.† Not one to take up if youíre feeling low, but a painfully moving film that will stick in your mind for days after so youíll want to watch it again.† It also makes a wonderful ad for Breton seaside holidays!† (French with English subtitles).