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|Index||54 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is never my style to defend a movie just because people disagree with
Yet looking through all the comments that slam the movie for having no
and even those who like the movie are unable to provide any solid reasons
other than the encrypted deeply moving or honest, I feel the need to give
two sense. So bear with me.
Let me first say that I don't think Presque Rien is the best gay movie ever made. Looking at the cover with two naked young guys, I expect it will offer little more than "tasteful" eye candy. But I came away feeling this is a lot better than I expect, and for the exact reason so many other complain about, the plot.
The story unfolds with Mathieu, after suffering from depression; revisit his family summerhouse to pull his life together. It is the same place where two summers ago he met his first boyfriend, someone he just broke up with. Upon arriving, Mathieu pick up a wild cat that's roaming on the street. In the flashback, when Mathieu arrives his family summerhouse for vacation he "picked up" a wild child, Cédric, who basically lives on the street. Instantly we can draw the connection between Cédric and the cat: Mathieu said to the cat "You are cute but you stink". It reminds us in the flashback how he rehearses his introduction line to Cédric to the mirror: "I must admit you are pretty cute". After Mathieu bathed the cat he said you are my little prince charming, just as the carefree and attractive Cédric would be to any gay teenager falling in love for the first time. But there is the less fortune comparison: like the cat, Cédric, as much as he wants Mathieu, is unable to reciprocate the kind of affection Mathieu needs in a relationship.
There is one key scene I find surprising that no one mentions is when Mathieu and Cédric visited a historic ruin. Architecture student Mathieu is interested in reading the background of the site but Cedric is only interested in a private intimate moment together - to him it is just a bunch of rock. Mathieu complained that Cédric has single track of mind and he doesn't like it when Cédric is like that. It is a telling sign of the difference between the two and how problematic the relationship could be. However, Mathieu (and many audience I bet) are so charmed by the good-looking and sexually uninhibited Cédric that he (and us) are blinded to the fact that Cédric is unable to bond with Mathieu in a non-physical way. Recall that Cédric was totally oblivious to any of the Mathieu's emotional problem when Mathieu's psychiatrist asked him, except that Mathieu is not interested in having sex in the past month, again only in a physical way.
The ending, so many of the comments have criticized, is actually very satisfying for me. While it seems contrive that Mathieu should reach out for his boyfriend's ex, it is not hard to understand what draws him to Pierre. Cédric doesn't believe in family and would rather be a renegade than being introduced to Mathieu's father. But outside of his house, we see the domestic Pierre helping out his mother in setting up dinner. Mathieu himself longingly browsed through the family photos, including his pain-in-the-ass sister, the first thing he arrived his family home in years. When Mathieu asked Pierre why he didn't have his own place, Pierre as-a-matter-of-factly said "Why? To be All Alone?" The Mathieu who impulsively moved in with Cédric to a total strange city can certainly understand that sentiment. (When Pierre asked Mathieu if he think he is lame, Mathieu replied that he thinks he seems `really together')
The movie concluded with Mathieu and Pierre coming across a lonely child in the beach (presumably his dad is also present but he was intentionally excluded from the frame). Pierre showed his paternal side by teaching the kid how to play football/soccer as Mathieu knowingly looking on. In the flashback, the naive and love-struck Mathieu was totally captivated by Cédric as he sang and danced in the buff at the beach, the post-depression, wiser and more mature Mathieu (something Pierre didn't fail to notice), once again sitting on a beach, now saw the side of Pierre that he knows he wouldn't find in Cédric.
I don't dare to say my interpretation is THE interpretation. But I hate to see people dismiss scenes as pointless and boring, went on to accuse the movie has no plot and provides no answer when the very scenes they dismiss provide the clues they are looking for. For that, I feel I have to put down my view.
"Come Undone" appears to elicit a lot of opinions among the
contributors to this forum. Granted, it's a film that promises a take
on gay life, as most viewers expect and somehow, it gets away from that
promise into an introspective view at a young man's soul. The film has
a way of staying with us even when it has ended. It is a character
study about how a young man gets involved into a love affair with
someone so much different than him that, in the end, will leave Mathieu
confused, hurt and depressed when things don't go according to what he
hoped the relationship would be.
If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you would like to stop reading.
Sebastien Lifshitz, the director of the film, has told his story from Mathieu's viewpoint. Most viewers appear to be disoriented by the different times within the film, but there are hints that are not obvious, as one can see, in retrospect. The story is told in flashbacks that might add to the way some people will view the film. This is a story about the doomed the love Mathieu felt for Cedric and the ultimate breakdown of their life together.
First of all, Cedric, the handsome young local, pursues Mathieu until he succeeds in convincing him he likes him. Mathieu feels the attraction for Cedric too. We realize how different both young men are by the way Cedric tells Mathieu's family how he feels school is not for him. On the other hand, Mathieu, who wants to be an architect, finds beauty in the abandoned place where Cedric has taken him. We watch as Mathieu, reading from the guide book, wants Cedric's attention.
When Mathieu comes out to his mother, she wisely tells him about the importance of continuing his career. She also points out about what future both of them would have together, which proves to be true. Mathieu appears to have learned his lesson, the hard way. He goes on to an uncertain life with Cedric and attempts to take his own life. We watch him in the hospital speaking to a psychiatrist that has treated his wounded soul.
The ending might be confusing for most viewers, but there is a moment in the film when Mathieu goes to work in a bar where we see him washing glasses and looking intently to Pierre, the young man who frequents the bar. That is why when Mathieu goes looking for Pierre at his house, appears to be hard to imagine. Yet, we have seen the way Mathieu is obviously interested in Pierre. The last scene at the beach, when Pierre and Mathieu are seen strolling in the sand, has a hopeful sign that things will be better between them as they watch a young boy, apparently lost, but then realizing the father is nearby.
Jeremie Elkaim makes Mathieu one of the most complex characters in recent films. This is a young man who is hard to understand on a simple level. Mathieu has suffered a lot, first with the separation of his parents, then with his depressed mother and with losing Cedric. Stephan Rideau, who has been seen on other important French films, is equally good, as the shallow Cedric.
While "Come Undone" will divide opinions, the film deserves a viewing because of the complexity and the care Sebastien Lifshitz gives to the story.
It seems that what French cinema does best is slice of life drama. Come Undone is one such drama, yet way above the quality that we've come to expect from the genre.
Director Sebastien Lifshitz slices the narrative, then pieces it together in a way which is at first confusing but which ultimately adds much to the emotional tone of the film. The meeting and parting of two boys in their late teens is related without offering much in the way of a clear explanation as to how or why. The emphasis being on the troubled emotional journey one of them undergoes as a result of the unexpected love relationship that develops.
Besides his keen cinematic eye, Lifshitz's major success is eliciting from both Jeremie Elkaim and Stephane Rideau totally convincing performances. There's not one false note sounded. The smaller parts too are handled well.
A deeply moving, beautifully played, complex film. One that certainly warrants more than one viewing.
(USA: Come Undone /UK: Almost Nothing)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Sound format: Dolby Digital
While visiting his sick mother in Brittany during summer recess, a teenage boy (Jérémie Elkaïm) falls in love with a local youth (Stéphane Rideau), but their relationship falters as Elkaïm is cut adrift from all that was once familiar to him, with near-tragic consequences.
Sébastien Lifshitz's intimate drama chronicles the sexual awakening of a naive teenager over the course of an idyllic summer, recounted in piecemeal fashion as the director cuts abruptly between timeframes, from Elkaïm and Rideau's love affair to the former's subsequent hospitalization following an off-screen suicide attempt, rendered 'naturalistic' by hand-held camera-work and some improvized dialogue exchanges in key scenes. The results are confusing, to say the least: Just as the boys begin to strike out from their families and forge a life for themselves, Elkaïm slips into depression (why?) and appears to reject Rideau (why?), after which he goes looking for him again, only to find solace in unexpected quarters.
Anyone hoping for a rose-tinted love story will come away feeling more than a little disappointed, though Lifshitz refuses to compromise the sexual aspects of his own screenplay (co-written with Stéphane Bouqet): Elkaïm and Rideau are completely nude in several sequences, and there's a memorable, full-on sex session amongst the sand dunes which should satisfy all but the most ardent porn-watcher. But the boys' attachment is complicated by their relationship with their respective families, especially Elkaïm, who feels unable to declare his burgeoning sexuality because of a recent tragedy which has driven his father away and confined his mother to her sick-bed. Sad, complex and not a little frustrating, the movie works its magic in quiet ways, but it's a little too cold and dispassionate to satisfy all tastes.
Nicely produced on a modest budget, the film also stars Dominique Reymond, Marie Matheron and Laetitia Legrix as the three women in Elkaïm's life (mother, aunt and sister, respectively), along with Nils Ohlund as one of Rideau's former boyfriends, who figures heavily in the narrative's closing stages. The two leads are fine in difficult roles, and both have become iconic figures in European gay cinema: Rideau starred in such well-regarded Queer movies as WILD REEDS (1994), FULL SPEED (1996), TRANSFIXED (1997), SITCOM (1998) and THREE DANCING SLAVES (2003), while Elkaïm - who looks like a Bel Ami porn beauty - also appears in the gay-themed drama YOU'LL GET OVER IT (2002) as the love object of handsome Julien Baumgartner (SEXY BOYS). Director Lifshitz made his feature debut with the French TV production LES TERRES FROIDES (1999) following a series of short films with Queer themes, and his latest entry is WILD SIDE (2004), another perceptive exploration of omnisexual angst.
"Presque rien," a simple story of two 19-year-old youths who meet and fall
in love while both are on summer vacation, offers an affecting romance of
Told by director Sebastian Lifshitz and writers Stephane Bouquet and Lifshitz through a series of vignettes--often presented in a nonsequential timeline--the unfoldment provides some work on the part of the viewer to position these disjointed fragments together.
However, the basic scenario is so simple that the unfoldment does unite in post-reflection. It is an interesting tale, made plausible by two fine performances by the leads.
Jeremie Elkaim as Matthiew evokes a slightly moody, troubled youth, longing for affection, and willing to give of himself in a new relationship. Elkaim's work beautifully conveys Matthiew's need for companionship and for escape from a staid and mundane domestic environment.
Stephane Rideau presents yet another of his remarkable performances as Cedric. Rideau immerses himself in the role so skillfully that his craft brilliance is taken for granted. As close to the late James Dean as has been seen recently, Rideau takes his place in the Alain Delon legacy as one of France's leading young actors. Rideau possesses an arresting countenance: even his pointed ears, protruding chin, an off-centered eye, and crooked lips seem to contribute to his handsomeness. His Cedric is non-intellectual, expressing primitive emotions in his approach to life; yet, his ardor for Matthiew rings undeniably genuine and true.
The rest of the cast of "Presque rien" contribute to this slice-of-life tale, and we are pleased to have an opportunity to glimpse fragments of a both playful and poignant summertime romance.
Only after some contemplation did I decide I liked this movie. And after
reading comments from all the other posters here, and thinking about it
more, I decided that I liked it tremendously. I love American films -
probably because they are so narrative. They usually have a well-defined
beginning, middle, and end. "Presque rien," on the other hand, makes no
such attempt. I disagree with other posters that say it's 'too artsy.'
every way, this film is meant to evoke your sense memories. So often
throughout the film you feel like you're there... you feel the summer
the breezes, the heat, the winter chill, the companionship, the
In every way, the director pulls you into the lives of the characters - which is why so many people feel so strongly that the movie disappointed them. After I finished watching it, I felt the same. But upon some reflection, I recognized that this is how the movie had to be: the 'story' isn't the narrative, it's the emotions you (the viewer) feel.
The lighting, scenery, and camera angles immerse you in the scenes - they're rich, exquisite, and alive with detail and nuance. Although I normally cannot countenance films without a fully developed plot (after all, isn't a movie 'supposed' to tell a story), this film is definitely one of my new favorites.
'Presque Rien' ('Come Undone') is an earlier work by the inordinately
gifted writer/ director Sébastien Lifshitz (with the collaboration of
writer Stéphane Bouquet - the team that gave us the later 'Wild Side').
As we come to understand Lifshitz's manner of storytelling each of his
works becomes more treasureable. By allowing his tender and sensitive
love stories to unfold in the same random fashion found in the minds of
confused and insecure youths - time now, time passed, time reflective,
time imagined, time alone - Lifshitz makes his tales more personal,
involving the viewer with every aspect of the characters' responses. It
takes a bit of work to key into his method, but going with his
technique draws us deeply into the film.
Mathieu (handsome and gifted Jérémie Elkaïm) is visiting the seaside for a holiday, a time to allow his mother (Dominique Reymond) to struggle with her undefined illness, cared for by the worldly and wise Annick (Marie Matheron) and accompanied by his sister Sarah (Laetitia Legrix): their distant father has remained at home for business reasons. Weaving in and out of the first moments of the film are images of Mathieu alone, looking depressed, riding trains, speaking to someone in a little recorder. We are left to wonder whether the unfolding action is all memory or contemporary action.
While sunning at the beach Mathieu notices a handsome youth his age starring at him, and we can feel Mathieu's emotions quivering with confusion. The youth Cédric (Stéphane Rideau) follows Mathieu and his sister home, continuing the mystery of attraction. Soon Cédric approaches Mathieu and a gentle introduction leads to a kiss that begins a passionate love obsession. Mathieu is terrified of the direction he is taking, rebuffs Cédric's public approaches, but continues to seek him out for consignations. The two young men are fully in the throes of being in love and the enactment of the physical aspect of this relationship, so very necessary to understanding this story, is shared with the audience in some very erotic and sensual scenes. Yet as the summer wears on Mathieu, a committed student, realizes that Cédric is a drifter working in a condiment stand at a carnival. It becomes apparent that Cédric is the Dionysian partner while Mathieu is the Apollonian one: in a telling time in architectural ruin Mathieu is excited by the beauty of the history and space while Cédric is only interested in the place as a new hideaway for lovemaking.
Mathieu is a complex person, coping with his familial ties strained by critical illness and a non-present father, a fear of his burgeoning sexuality, and his nascent passion for Cédric. Their moments of joy are disrupted by Cédric's admission of infidelity and Mathieu's inability to cope with that issue and eventually they part ways. Time passes, family changes are made, and Mathieu drifts into depression including a suicide attempt. The manner in which Mathieu copes with all of these challenges and finds solace, strangely enough, in one of Cédric's past lovers Pierre (Nils Ohlund) brings the film to an ambiguous yet wholly successful climax.
After viewing the film the feeling of identification with these characters is so strong that the desire to start the film from the beginning now with the knowledge of the complete story is powerful. Lifshitz has given us a film of meditation with passion, conflicts with passion's powers found in love, and a quiet film of silences and reveries that are incomparably beautiful. The entire cast is superb and the direction is gentle and provocative. Lifshitz is most assuredly one of the bright lights of film-making. In French with English subtitles. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
'Presque Rien' is a beautifully observed portrait of the experiences of a young French homosexual. Eschewing both stereotypes and preaching, it's a wonderfully naturalistic film, superbly acted, shot with a feel for the seaside town where the action takes place, never melodramatic but often painfully real. If anything it's almost too realistic, as there's little in the way of conventional plot, just scenes from a life. But the absence of conventional dramatic tension counts for less than it might in a world so subtly drawn. 'Presque Rien' might not be the most exciting film ever made; but its simple humanism serves it well compared with the pre-conceived celebratory or bigoted viewpoints that often mar treatments of this theme. Worth a watch.
An adult, realistic, cruel, dark story, like a second part of "les roseaux savages" (the wild reeds), plenty of beauty and sadness, ellipsis and silences, shadows and little sparks of hope. a man searching for a warm companion, a better life, a sincere attitude.
Maybe "Presque Rien" is not the best movie ever made... But it is
better than many of you have said. I still haven't seen a homo-themed
movie better than this one.
You Americans are accustomed to watch very narrative movies, with a clear beginning, development and outcome. But European movies are less narrative, but makes you think much and feel.
Many of you didn't understand the sense of the movie.. The purpose of this one is not show us a simple "summer loving movie", with commercial characters who "fall in love and live happy forever". Summer Holidays and beach are only a background, and this movie is directed to every young boy who may feel identified with those boys.
Maybe some of you didn't understand well this movie, because of its 3 parts, showed as flashbacks. These 3 moments are: - Summertime in Pornichet, when they meet and love. - After a year and half living together in Nantes, Mathieu doesn't go to a psychiatric himself. He tries to suicide taking something, and Cedric brings him to hospital. Later, he appears talking with a psychiatrist to find the reason about he done that. - The last part, is when Mathieu come back to Pornichet, in winter, alone.. to think about how his life have changed, how his life become to be, and trying to find himself.
It's possible that some people couldn't understand all this well, because all the scenes are mixed among them. But anyway, as I said before... this is not a funny movie. If what someone want to see is meat, for that, we have Belami movies.
Presque Rien, what want to show us, is how cruel can be the life, for a young boy who is not sure about his feelings and not sure about what to do in life. Mathieu only wants to go away from home, and try to live the kind of life that he thought could bring him the happiness.. But what seemed perfect at the beginning.. later is not as good as he thought, and he become troubled, and feel that he has lost the way of his life. He is lost and doesn't know what he really wants to do, or what makes him happy. He finally become depressed and tries to commit suicide.
So, funny? Is not a funny movie. Very hot scenes? only a few.. but this is not a movie for entertainment. Is all about feelings... friendship, love, happiness, unhappiness, pain, depression, loneliness... I, as many others, feel identified with life and problems of Mathieu, and that is what director wanted to do.. a movie who show us the cruel reality of a boy's life.
For me, the best homo-themed movie ever.
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