03 February, 2009

the barefoot baklesa reviews: Just A Question of Love [Juste Une Question d'Amour]

The Barefoot Baklesa Reviews: JUST A QUESTION OF LOVE

I’m going to take a break from my usual Japanese movie reviews to focus on two French films I enjoyed viewing most recently. The first of which, is this movie I have been dying to have a copy of for years now: Just A Question of Love. I think I saw a trailer of it years ago when with my copy of 9 Dead Gay Guys; and have been looking for it but was too cheap to pay $29 for it… Hahahaha!!! At this point, I would like to thank the underground economy for supplying me with movies I would rather not spend retail and taxes for. Moving on…

I have once commented on how some Filipino movies never tackle the issue of parents coming to terms with having a gay son; they either make it funny or absurd. I have yet to see a Filipino script that presents a somewhat believable portrayal of what happens to a family that has to deal with loving someone gay. And don’t throw “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” [translated as The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros] my way to say otherwise; because until now, I still can’t find what the world fell in love with when it came to that movie. On the other hand, maybe I should watch it again to give it a fair chance. Maybe…

Just A Question of Love [JAQOL] presents a contrast between two gay men and the relationship they have with their parents in terms of their sexuality. Laurent [played by the Cyrille Thouvenin] is a senior finishing up in agricultural college, much to his father’s disappointment who had expected him to take up pharmacology to follow in his footsteps and continue the family business. Laurent is what one would call the worst closet case. His masquerade includes his roommate named Carole who poses as his girlfriend. Laurent decided to keep his sexuality a secret after seeing the way his cousin Marc get disowned and left to die by his aunt and uncle after learning that he was gay. After Marc’s death, Laurent’s academics have taken a downward spiral in his senior year.

Advised by his dean to take on some required apprenticeship to graduate, Laurent gets assigned to work under Cedric [played by Stepan Guerin Tillie]; an agricultural researcher for the government who also runs the garden center left to him by his deceased father. Not wanting to leave his mother to handle the business alone, Cedric does his scientific research in his private laboratory located within the compound. His mother Emma, who knows about his sexuality and has learned to live with it somehow… I guess by now you’ve figured out the complications. Eventually, when Laurent and Cedric become romantically involved, Cedric becomes frustrated with Laurent’s insistence on keeping up with his masquerade.

Cyrille Thouvenin, who plays Laurent, is just right for the role with the proper mix of boyish charm and sexual appeal. I have to admit, the movie takes me back when I saw Laurent wearing a green shirt with the word SOUNDGARDEN printed on it [I‘m a production designer, I notice these things]. While Stephan Guerin Tillie as Cedric has this attractive maturity about him that when mixed with the passion in his performance of the role isn’t hard to fall in love with. Okay, I better stop myself there…but they just look good together to say the least.

Essentially, what JAQOL treats upon is that when it comes to love, parents must realize that their children need them [Well, that’s just me if this were an ideal world…]. Emma had it right when she said, “Don’t listen to people! We don’t live with them but with our children. When your son is gone, they won’t fill in for him.” I like the way JAQOL injects the points it wants to make through the characters without being so obvious which for me makes up a well written script. Then again, I have yet to see a horribly written French film.

I recommend JAQOL to all you gay guys out there who are still living their double lives -it’s not a judgment against your choice but more of a push to the OUTward direction- for to quote the movie, “It’s terrible to carry around so much useless suffering at your age.” As for the parents seeking to understand what their gay offspring are going through, this would be a good movie to start with. Because “It’s not a question of gay or straight. It’s just a question of Love.”

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