FRENCH KISSES - Short Film Collection
French Kisses is the new short film collection from TLA Releasing, which has pulled together six diverse short films from France that all feature or explore gay characters.
APOLLON starts the collection and is a piece about masculinity, following a slim young man who is obsessed both with the size of his muscles and of his manhood. Surrounded by images of idealised male form and phallic images (bananas) that seem to be taunting him, he is unable to seem himself as anything other than skinny and ill-equipped. An interesting depiction of young people’s perceived inadequacy, which is rarely seen from a male perspective.
RUPTURES is a short series of interviews in which the filmmaker interviews lovers of his past about their relationships a break-ups. While some are nostalgic, others are bitter, showing the subjectivity of romance, where some think him a decent man and others that he is cruel. When the film crosses into other more stylised sequences however, it loses its believability as the truth it has established through its earlier style is somewhat undermined.
LES CORPS DES ANGES is a perplexing piece in which a peculiar (presumably psychological) transformation of a young man into an angel leads to his taking control and destroying a rural farming family. Through a mostly wordless film, we see him writhing on forest floors in states of undress as he becomes this “creature” while the family are out “hunting”. It’s a dense watch that stretches your patience.
JUILLET ÉLECTRIQUE follows two teenage boys during a scorching hot July. Bored but happy in each other’s company, they make their own fun at an abandoned bridge construction site, but as they break bottles and run around, one is harbouring a secret that he needs to confront. A film about sexual awakening, this is a well-composed character piece, albeit with very little that actually happens in it.
HERCULANUM is an intimate portrait of two men over the course of a series of hook-ups. As time passes and they spend more and more time together, they begin to feel a connection that extends far beyond the arc they enjoy with each other. And as they finally spend a whole night together, the modern romance of their story is juxtaposed alongside the tragic romance of the victims of Vesuvius. A nuanced piece about human connections, this is the collection’s strongest piece.
EN RETOUR depicts a hook-up between a handsome young stranger and an older man. While the older character seems to be preying on the younger, it soon becomes apparent that the younger partner’s motives are much more complex than they initially appear. A story that plays on the fear of what happens when you let strangers into your home, this is a simple but tense piece of film that successfully plays on filmic stereotypes.
In totality, this is a disparate collection that features both highs and lows. HERCLANUM and EN RETOUR are the best of them, but with such a diverse mix, they all succeed in different ways. However with some a little too inaccessible for their own good, the full collection sags somewhat in the middle.