Both a queer and a queer film which stands at a social cross roads.
This film is of a portrait of man's desire in relation to another man.
However, from a post modern point of view, the portrait sits on a historical crossroads.
A cynical appraisal of the story might tell of a bored, married, city commuter who is tied to the conventions of an office job and a marriage that has stagnated. The commuter seeks distractions from the hum-drum of his life and makes the mistake of falling for a bit of rough trade he picks up at the road side. The more he sees of the anarchy of the hustler's life the more he lets himself go. However, everything in the film want's you to believe in Etienne's (the city commuter) attempts not to see the situation in this way, but rather to share and perceive Etienne's ideas about spiritual love and redemption from suffering. In Etienne's delusions he is a Christian hero bringing salvation and peace by following the purity of his natural propensity to love. But from a Freudian perspective Etienne is a latent bi/homosexual in a state of contradictory denial and personal crisis characterised by self destruction.
From a post queer era perspective, actual verbal reference to 'homosexuality' is noted to be almost laughably absent from the film despite a repeated inference to a homosexual underworld which provides a good part of the setting of the story as much as an explicitly declared same gender love. It's a queer (in the old sense of the word) contradiction, meaning, it is rather 'odd'.
Anything gay is unmentionable and this cinematic convention towards omitting reference sets up typical devices which are left to carry any notions of 'gay' queer themes present. Devices like, the blurring of definitions, the creation of ambiguities, the muddling of religious ideas with social inferences and even ironically,the necessity of asserting a 'gay gaze' to negotiate the existence of all these devices. Perhaps the most classic of these devices is the untimely demise of the character who embodies the taboo emotions. Sadly, this film does present that cliché. The use of such cinematic techniques to undermine the subject to which it refers to, that is, sexuality, is nothing new, but the overt assertion of same gender love portrayed to such an obsessive degree does feel edgy and remains exciting.
The film works best if the audience is moved towards a state of intellectual enigmatic-ism. However moving away from this comfortable position and trying to provide answers to questions concerning the characters' actions feels like a decidedly queer task. At the heart of the question of the love portrayed in the film, it must be asked, what language best describes what has happened and who these people have been to each other ? This void in language is as relevant today to unfixing constraints and coming to a process of knowing as it has ever been. It's not a matter of labels but rather language. But at the same time this does not mean avoiding altogether reference to the obvious or major themes portrayed in the film.
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