I was unaware of the film's plot when I began watching (since I prefer films to come as a surprise), and so I watched with interest the beginnings of a film which marked an episode of my own story. I don't know whether this similarity (or perhaps - lack of it) led to my negative reactions, but I doubt it.
The film's plot, which focuses around what to do when one has but a few months to live, is one which has been done ... (dare I say ...) to death.
It is for this that we needed something different to make it interesting. I am unsure whether having the main character as a gay man is something which the writer chose in order to bring this twist, but - OK - maybe this brings something new. And I actually thought that this was well done - the first film for a long time where the character is gay, but that that is not the focus of the story.
But then we start to go a bit far in attempting to add more "I bet you've not seen this before". Perhaps it was for this reason also that Ozon (the director) thought it would be a nice splash of "nouveau" to show graphic man on man love making, featuring some good old solid erections from both parties(!) Maybe too it was for this that it was felt a good idea to place in the story a random café waitress who, after two minutes' dialogue with Romain decides that he is the main who should father the child of her and her sterile husband. Maybe too it was for this reason that it seemed that it would be good to show us the act of insemination, which involves Romain making love to the waitress, while her (previously sulking and bitter) husband is rubbing and kissing him in order to give him the impetus. Maybe ... maybe ... In fact, maybe not!
In order to show us things deemed to be "groundbreaking" we end up being shown things which are unnecessary, unbelievable and pointless. Romain admits himself that he is not a good man, and this is evident. Yet we have no reason for the roots of his character. We are left with an unlikeable, selfish man, but we are never sure whether he is like this due to his discovery of his imminent mortality and he is just trying to push people away so that he can be undisturbed and focus on himself, or whether he has just simply always been a nob?
Maybe this is the point. Maybe we are being challenged by these questions in a way which is meant to make us question what forces drive our behaviour when all is well, and what we would be like when we are stripped of all prospects of a reason to maintain such behaviour. Hmmmm ... maybe. Or maybe I stopped caring very soon after the film began.
While I enjoy French cinema's attempt to bring new things to film, I also dislike it's need to bring novelty for the sake of novelty. It has almost become a points scoring contest, as if simply a good story will not suffice without some realm of shock value. It's like the Emporer's new clothes, and I watch them feeling that the director is directly talking to me as he wears a polo neck jumper, sips on pastis and sneers - "Just you try and criticise me! You are not sophistiqué enough to watch erect men humping each other? You're not avant gard enough to scratch your moustache in appreciative contemplation of a lengthy gay man/unwilling straight man/waitress menage à trois? What do you know about REAL cinema!!?"
No Mr Ozon, it's not that. It's just that your film's pretty crap, it missed all of the points that would have been of interest and your attempts to wow me were simply boring or annoying.
I wouldn't recommend it.