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My Life on Ice presents the unique point of view of 16-year-old Etienne, a cute would-be ice skating champion living in provincial Rouen who is obsessed with filming his daily life with a digital camera. Told from his subjective perspective, the focus of Etienne's video diary subtly takes shape as he records his single mother, his best friend Ludovic, and, almost stalker-like, his handsome male geography teacher Laurent. Though explaining his goal is to match his mother with Laurent, he gradually comes to the realization that other unconscious desires are motivating him, as hinted at in an intense discussion with Ludovic about the possibility of love between men. Written by
Beauty and Intimacy: The Means Can Be An End In Itself
I'm not normally one to care so much about film technique or movie technology, the story or the characters are what usually drive my interest. However, this is the third film I have seen that was filmed using Digital Video (the other two were Barbet Schroeder's "Our Lady of the Assassins" and "Manic", both of which I have also reviewed here on IMDb) and I have come to realize that I like this style of movie-making very, very much. I might go so far as to say that the means may actually be the ends, although all these films have also given so much more than just an appealing technique. But to just simply feel that much closer and more intimate with beautiful and appealing people, regardless of their problems or whatever they are going through, is a pleasure just by itself.
This film really could have been a video journal of a teenage ice skater, one who was, at least, quite skilled with the camera, and, in fact, throughout the film, I simply believed that such a video journal is what it actually was. Living in Los Angeles like I do where so many are would-be filmmakers, and at a time when so many kids have video cameras and are so often putting them in your face or surreptitiously filming you (and themselves), it would not be far-fetched that an ice skater as disciplined and talented as the actor in the film (genuinely a second-place holder in a French figure-skating championship) could also develop skill in this other artistic medium...as, indeed, successfully done by the skater Jimmy Tavares who also demonstrated his notable acting ability in this film.
I found the video technique fascinating as, appropriately, an intimate visual expose of the coming of age of a character in a FILM, just like a diary or personal letters would be in a BOOK. It was as if Etienne, the ice skater, wanted to objectify his life by recording his activities and those of the other people who interacted with or were of interest to him in such a way that he could then step aside and see his life from the outside.
It helped a lot that the boy, Etienne, was so beautiful, as was his whole family and the people associated with him, and his personality, as was theirs, was also so charming and humorous. It was not boring or meaningless to be with these people for a year (film time). In fact, I myself, not only want to buy my own video camera and start filming myself and all the people in my life, but I also wished all the people in my life were French! And the video camera with such great depth of field picks up so many more images in a scene that one does not normally see in a movie, and this quality added to the magnitude of the experience. For example, as Etienne would be filmed skating around in his practice arena, metro trains would go speeding by outside the arena's window with perfect clarity, adding the rhythm and beauty of their motion with that of the skater gracefully doing his swirls and spins.
But all this intimacy and beauty in the camera work does not overshadow the fact that something is supposed to be happening with these characters, and, as far as I am concerned, there was no disappointment there. There were times when Etienne's subjects rebelled against his intruding in their life with his camera, and yet in the end the only one really intruded into was Etienne himself, who got particularly nervous or upset when others used his camera, but he was at the same time quite willing to film himself when he was the one at the controls.
Inexorably, the story does move to the conclusion that must have been what had been motivating Etienne the whole time, and it was here that his good acting ability was revealed to be great. As appealing as Etienne's character had always been (despite his occasional anger or bad moods), upon achieving his self-realization, some subtle dark filter or cloud seemed to have been removed from his character and he then radiated a light that was several notches brighter than what had been expressed before. I almost would have thought that a filter had been removed from the camera lense, but this new light really was from within Jimmy Tavares, himself. And that what he came to understand about himself is nowadays understood to not necessarily be all that unusual or spectacular, for him, alone, of course, it certainly would matter very much and since we had been so close to him throughout the movie, it mattered to us, too.
I could have watched so much more, but in this movie, the climax was also the denouement--as sudden as a camera can stop, or, more importantly, START (controlled with a simple pressing of a button on a remote control), so, too, are there sudden stops and starts in the life of the character effected, where what was before has now been severely EDITED, and the personal DEPTH OF FIELD is now so much greater.
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