After meeting in a chat room, Fede (22) arrives at a downtown building to have an intimate encounter with a gay couple older than him. As the night unfolds, Fede has an intense and telling ... See full summary »
Set in the stunningly beautiful Provencal region of France, "The Man of My life" looks at how both passion and responsibility play an equally crucial role in defining who we are and how we love.
Frederic (Bernard Campan) and Frederique (Lea Drucker) are a happily married couple who enjoy entertaining large groups of people at the country home where they vacation. One day, Frederic invites their next door neighbor, a single gay man by the name of Hugo (Charles Berling), over for a get-together with family and friends. Soon, Frederic and Hugo have struck up a friendship largely centered on their mutual addiction to running and their propensity to talk the night away over such weighty matters as love, passion, responsibility, freedom, commitment and marriage. Hugo tries to convince Frederic that his role as dutiful husband and father has robbed him of his individuality and earlier lust for life, while Hugo, spurned by his father at a young age, comes to his own understanding of the importance of family by the end. There's an obvious sexual attraction between the two men, but the movie goes far beyond the typical coming-out drama to explore romantic passion in all its myriad complexities and forms.
Frederic is torn between the desire to continue loving the wife who so obviously loves him and who has provided a stable home for him and their children - and this new found feeling for Hugo that he can, in no way, shape or form, even begin to understand. The movie never feels the need to judge any of the characters; it presents them simply as well-meaning but flawed human beings who struggle on a daily basis, as all of us do, with an array of emotions, needs and desires that continually come into conflict with one another.
The screenplay by Zabou Breitman and Agnes de Sacy employs long, winding conversations to reveal the truths about the characters and the relationships that help to define them. Moreover, the sensuous, bucolic setting, far from being a mere backdrop to the foreground action, actually serves to pull us into the lives of these people as they while away a languid summer swimming, hiking and exploring the inner workings of their own roiled psyches.
In his direction, Breitman has come up with interesting, slightly abstract ways of filming the commonplace details of everyday life, utilizing extreme close-ups, distorted angles, catawampus framing and mosaic-style storytelling to impart a lyrical tone to the film.
Superb performances by the three leading players also add greatly to the emotional richness of the piece.
With a great deal of insight and tenderness, "The Man of My Life" presents us with a subtly provocative, beautifully realized and psychologically complex view of the human heart.
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