A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wild Reeds (André Téchiné, 1994)

Élodie Bouchez and Gaël Morel in Wild Reeds
François Forestier: Gaël Morel
Maïté Alvarez: Élodie Bouchez
Serge Bartolo: Stéphane Rideau
Henri Mariani: Frédéric Gorny
Madame Alvarez: Michèle Moretti
Pierre Bartolo: Eric Kreikenmayer

Director: André Téchiné
Screenplay: Olivier Massart, Gilles Taurand, André Téchiné
Cinematography: Jeanne Lapoirie

Watched on Filmstruck

François, a student at a boarding school in France in 1962, is beginning to come to terms with his sexuality. His only real confidante is Maïté Alvarez, whose mother is François's French teacher, but he's strongly attracted to Serge, an Italian immigrant whom François helps with his assignments. One night, Serge welcomes François to his bed and, out of curiosity, has sex with him, though he later tells François that he's really attracted to Maïté. Serge's bother, Pierre, is serving in the army in Algeria, where the war is coming to an end, but not the bloodiness, as the right-wing OAS, a group resisting Algerian independence, is still committing terrorist acts. The film opens with Pierre's wedding, at which he pleads with Mme. Alvarez, a member of the Communist Party and a strong supporter of independence, to help him desert from the army. She tells him she's unable to do anything to help him, and when he is killed in Algeria she suffers a mental breakdown. Meanwhile, a new student, Henri, from a family that supports the OAS, comes to the school, and although he's violently opposed to the political position that she shares with her mother, he, too, falls in love with Maïté. The volatility of this mix is obvious, as each of the four young people has to sort out his or her relationship -- political and/or sexual -- with the others. The film is at its best in portraying François's sexual confusion, particularly in a scene in which he approaches an older man he has been told is gay and asks for advice and help. The man is, understandably, confused and not very helpful.

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