Reel Affirmations 2003
Tout contre Léo
Review by Randy Shulman
Rating: (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Sunday, 10/19/2003, 3:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
French with English subtitles
THIS COMPELLING, artfully told story of a young gay man who learns he has AIDS and how his three brothers — in particular the youngest, Marcel — cope with his illness drips with French sensibility. Made for French television, it’s an intimately tender, supremely acted movie that shows more than it tells.
The point of view is mainly that of Marcel’s (the gifted Yannis Lespert), as he struggles to learn what exactly is wrong with Leo (the expressive and handsome Pierre Mignard), his eldest brother. The pre-adolescent Marcel is frustrated by his loving, close-knit family who deem the boy too young to know the truth.
Christophe Honore’s direction is deliberate and unhurried — until the final ten minutes, when the narrative suddenly kicks into a rush of resolution, shortchanging the patient, emotional investment we’ve made up to this point.
Still, this is a marvelous drama — warm, lovely, sensual and captivating — and it boasts some of the most ravishing shots you’re likely to see in this year’s festival, including one in which the four brothers cavort naked on a moonlit beach at night. It all but takes your breath away.