This is a combination coming out and first love story. The swimmer and diver Lucard is interested in attractive Martin. The film follows the characters' coming out with all its difficulties... See full summary »
This is a combination coming out and first love story. The swimmer and diver Lucard is interested in attractive Martin. The film follows the characters' coming out with all its difficulties, the bitter-sweet pleasures of first love and the dreadful moment when one comes down to reality and realizes that one's beloved friend has a hard way to go yet. The positive message the film tries to transmit is the somewhat common motto "Live each day of your life as if it were your last." Written by
The American video release of THE MAN I LOVE wants us to think that this is quite a different film. Note how the pool (which is an indoor facility in the film) is depicted as outdoors, flanked by exotic palm trees? Clearly, this isn't going to be an unconventional romance with an AIDS storyline, right? Wrong! Like the box cover, THE MAN I LOVE tries to have it all by challenging expectations - and it often succeeds.
Like YOU'LL GET OVER IT and JUST A QUESTION OF LOVE, this is another French teleplay with a gay coming-out / coming-of-age theme. What makes this film different, however, is that it refuses to be defined by one genre or other. The story tracks the relationship between straight blonde Adonis diver Lucas and lovelorn gay activist pool attendant Martin - and it is an odd match indeed. At first, Lucas' brusque (borderline rude) behavior to the insistent protestations of love from Martin (all within the first five minutes) seems odd and clearly aimed for comic effect. But the film will not be content with that. As the story progresses it is clear that Martin is the catalyst to Lucas realizing his buried sexuality and finding true love and fulfillment. On the way, it is revealed that Martin is in the last stages of AIDS. This aspect of the story is somewhat softened to preserve the romantic aura, but the sense of impending loss on Lucas is what is key here, not the details of Martin's illness.
The filmmaker's paint a vivid picture of Marseille and seem as in love with the vistas as they are with the characters. Even interior sequences feature windows revealing magnificent views. As if to say, that the world cannot be shut out, and that life lies waiting just outside. The film's biking sequences are key to this sense of 'jois de vive'. Even taking cinematic risks does not derail this film. Having Martin's dead lover on screen during Martin's revelation about him seems a bit much, especially when he leans into the flame to blow out birthday candles. Later, Lucas searches an empty house for the absent Martin and camera trickery has Lucas turn up both at the beginning and end of a slow pan. And what gay film would be complete without the exotic? Enter Martin's mother Rose in a pink car and bearing a more than passingly resembling a drag queen on wheels. Their arm-in-arm exit from a church has the trio walk directly toward the camera and stop - smiling. As if a photographer was taking their wedding photo. Sadly, they are the sole members of the wedding party. But even this does not daunt them. They remain smiling. Staring at us.
THE MAN I LOVE is a unique adventure. Set aside your expectations and look beneath the surface (a pool analogy, yes) and you'll see a film that takes chances - and one that more often than not succeeds.
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