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I'm afraid my attention was drawn to less important behaviors of the main character ... or maybe those behaviors were in some way allegorical or metaphorical in ways that were fraught with meaning and meant to divert my attention.
I remember hundreds of years ago when I was in high school we would analyze selected books that fell under the august label "literature," such as A Tale of Two Cities or The Scarlet Letter and, according to accepted wisdom & our teacher, every little thing was significant and laden with meaning. Candle wax dripping on a table, a fraying rope, a facial blemish ... everything merited hours of analysis. I wondered then, and still do, if maybe at least some of the time candle wax, old rope and acne were just that and nothing more. Unfortunately the French seem to revel in bludgeoning everyone with the insistent significance of the apparently insignificant. Crafting subtlety with a sledge hammer seldom produces an attractive result and is quite often counterproductive, although it does tend to attract the praise of gushing self-styled intellectuals.
At any rate, in the midst of all the passion, I became increasingly alarmed by the lead character's apparent disdain for bathing. At one point he even goes into the bathroom, splashes a bit of water about so that his mother with hear it, and then pulls the bath plug without ever even disrobing or wiping a face cloth over bits & pieces of his person. That, coupled with the way he frequently balled up clothing, tossed it about and even dragged it across dirty floors, began to become something of an obsessed focus for me, made all the worse when he swapped his clothes for something worn by the older man and spent much of the rest of the movie in an exceeding dirty tee shirt & jacket. I suppose all of this was carefully crafted for effect, but at times the trivial & subtle become heavy-handed & pointlessly obvious.
He also spent a great deal of time rushing, running from one place to another only to stop and look about ... left, right, left, right. It reminded me of the exaggerated affectations employed by actors in the days of silent films or a less than graceful imitation of a ballet dancer.
I enjoyed the film, although "enjoyed" is undoubtedly the wrong word, just as "appreciated" or "understood" would be wrong. It's hardly your typical "coming out" or rites of passage tale. The more I think about it and attempt to write about it, the more I feel more comfortable in saying it was a moving portrayal of the turmoil a young man experiences as he simultaneously wants to escape from his drab, "normal," and socially acceptable family life while feeling disturbed and offended by the alternative world to which his emotions are driving him.
Certainly not a particularly uplifting film for someone facing such unresolved turmoil in his own life, but probably an unwarranted confirmation of the costs of this "life choice" for anyone who believes being queer is an optional, perverted life style. (Yes... I use the expression "life choice" facetiously. Who would intentionally choose this nightmare for himself?)
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