Reel Affirmations 2005
Review by Randy Shulman
Rating: (5 out of 5)
Friday, 10/14/2005, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
French with English Subtitles
IMAGINE A JEAN Daniel Cadinot porn without the explicit sex — but all the accoutrements (drop-dead gorgeous young French men with an aversion to shirts) — and chances are you have a pretty good idea of what sitting through this drama from Gael Morel is like.
Morel, who starred in the 1994 French gay hit The Wild Reeds, takes on writing and directing duties with a lyrical, poetic sophistication. And yet there’s something not entirely satisfying about this story of three brothers who, following the death of their mother, have lost their way in life. On the surface, Three Dancing Slaves is about the choices we make. But surface is about as far as Morel gets.
Three stories are put forth, each with its own particular tone. First up, the tale of defiant, troubled Marc (impossibly sexy Nicholas Cazale), who suffers the movie’s deepest emotional loss in a horrific moment and then serves as a catalyst that propels the actions of his other brothers. Next up, Christophe (Stephane Rideau), recently released from prison and trying to make a legit go of things by getting a job at a ham factory. Finally, comes Olivier (Thomas Dumerchez) — the youngest and most sensitive of the siblings — whose budding homosexuality flowers with his friend Hicham (sensual Salim Kechiouche), who routinely engages in an athletic form of ancient slave dance known as capoeira.
The movie offers up erotic moments in the most unlikely places — Marc’s bathtime with his beloved dog, a shot of the three brothers, naked and entwined, with their father quietly gazing down on them. Even though it’s not explicitly gay, Three Dancing Slaves is suffused with overpowering homoeroticism.
Morel seems more intent on creating a constant air of titillation than crafting a resounding narrative, but when the men are this sexy, who needs story anyway? You might as well inhale its rich, French, homoerotic atmosphere and hold it in for as long as you can.