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Antoine and Quentin are twin brothers. They're both young, determined and stubborn. Planning to assist to their mother's funeral, they embark on a journey to Spain. Hitchhiking, walking, illegally breaking their way into cargo trains, their trip becomes longer and harder than expected.
Antoine, however, manages to find some pleasure thanks to the girls he finds on the road. Sexual intercourse seems to be Antoine's privilege, as Quentin remains isolated and totally immersed in his drawings. Even so, the twin brothers seem to share a special bond. Closeness and intimacy, at first, seem to come natural to them.
They almost embody the idealized brotherly relationship as seen in Sophocles Antigone. Antoine and Quentin are 'autadelphos' to the extreme, not only have they shared the mother's womb but they also share every physical trait, identical to one another in physical appearance they are completely different in everything else. According to Saussure's linguistics, these brothers would only be able to articulate themselves into the symbolic order by functioning as mutually supplementary properties. Here the signifier (the body) is the same, but the signified (the personality) is completely different.
The hardships of the excursion take a toll on the brother's already strained relationship. But even after constant fighting, they agree on working in a farm the necessary days to pay for a train ticket to Spain. One night, Quentin finds in the fields a young man that looks very interested in him. They go skinny dipping and afterwards they have sex in the middle of the woods. Antoine, worried about his brother's absence goes out looking for him and finds him naked with the other boy.
With a mindset conquered by the heterosexual normativity, Antoine is unable to cope with the fact that his brother is homosexual. In the classic Greek tragedy, Antigone confirms that she loves her brother despise he was a traitor to Thebes, she reaffirms "My brother is what he is", and she loves him even more than life itself. He is what he is. And she accepts him for it. Antoine, however, cannot accept homosexuality, he can't see his brother as he is. And so, a few hours after the fateful encounter, he betrays his brother.
While eating in town, a man approaches Antoine, trying to seduce him. He quickly tells the man that for 100 euros he can have his brother, who is already waiting in the bathroom. The man pays and goes into the bathroom, and abusively tries to undress Quentin, who defends as best as he can. Antoine leaves the place and returns afterwards, only to find his brother's backpack on the bathroom's floor. He is nowhere to be found and it's only then when Antoine realizes what he has done.
Relationships amongst brothers are always complicated, there is much love and hate, constant conflicts, but usually nothing escalates as dangerously as it happens in Pascal-Alex Vincent's film. Antoine has a ghastly nightmare: he sees Quentin covered in blood. He starts feeling guilty, and he starts remembering other occasions in which he had purposefully neglected his brother.
He has but one choice: to keep traveling to Spain. Just before reaching his mother's town, he runs into Angel, a young man that tries to help him (curiously, Angel is played by Fernando Ramallo, famous for his interpretation of a gay teenager in Krampack); finally he arrives on time for the memorial. It's only fitting that the possibility of the brother's death is bound to the mother's funeral. It all boils down to Lacan's symbolic death. The burial place is the first symbol in which humanity can reorganize itself. Animals live and die anonymously, so to speak. For humans, unity and irreplaceability must be protected and remembered through language, that's why we speak of the dead, why we erect monuments and place tombstones, thus creating what Lacan called "a second death" that pertains to the order of the symbolic.
The final scenes of "Donne-moi la main" are unforgettable because of the lack of communication, loneliness and true desperation that the director transmits with strong images. At the beginning of the film, we had two brothers trusting in each other, sharing their frustrations and joys, expressing their feelings not through conventional language but rather through gestures, physical contact, silences and movement. At the end of the film all that remains is bereft, loss, rage and violence.
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