Les roseaux sauvages (1994)
Directed by André Téchiné
In the past, director André Téchiné has relentlessly pursued complex subjects. His films don't pander to the audience, nor do they allow the public to be emotionally detached. In "Les Témoins", for instance, AIDS is understood not as a simple disease but as something that profoundly alters social discourse and human interaction.
In "Les Roseaux Sauvages" there is an immanent bellicosity among France and Algeria which lingers on in the background long enough to affect the protagonists. At the beginning of the film a wedding becomes the scenario in which we observe Serge's brother clumsily plotting how to desert from French troops, while François is idly chatting with Maïté, a girl he doesn't love but dates nonetheless. The war strongly infiltrates the world of these youngsters, as a new student arrives to the boarding school attended by Serge (interpreted by Stéphane Rideau in what would be the first of many gay related productions) and François (interpreted by Gaël Morel, director of several films of gay interest), an older boy named Henri that has experienced the aftermaths of the armed conflict in the flesh.
After a couple of visits Serge pays to François in the middle of the night, the two boys soon become friends, but not before sharing some intimate secrets and practicing mutual masturbation and sexual intercourse. Of course, for Serge this one night stand is the product of wild hormones and teenage horniness, but for François this moment changes everything: he will come forward to Maïté and from that moment, what at first seemed a typical high school relationship, is utterly modified.
It's not long before Henri finds out, quite easily, about the sexual escapades of the two boys, but seems preoccupied only with the development of the war. Henri is unable to come through a normal grieving process regarding his father and the Algerian reality. The need for a symbolic death becomes patently necessary for Henri. Jacques Lacan defined the symbolic death as a narrative of closure, as the final sentence one must utter in order to let the dead ones go. If every culture in the planet respects some sort of funerary rites it is precisely because of that. The real death comes naturally when a heart stops beating, but the symbolic death is something cultural, something that depends on any given individual and the ability to cope with loss. Coming to terms with death means to be able to write that epitaph in our head, to be able to understand someone else's life and then to let go of it.
|my sketch / mi boceto|
Serge, on the contrary, will eventually accept the casualties of war, and instead of being paralyzed by death he will keep moving on. When Maïté's mother suffers a psychological breakdown after hearing about the demise of one of her students, her daughter feels devastated. None of this matters to François who's having a hard time understanding his own sexuality. A most relevant moment takes place when he confronts his image in the mirror and starts repeating "Je suis pédé", ashamed of being gay. This degrading word will lead to the reformulation of the object of desire, according to new terms and surpassing the phallic response; François's desire will be inextricably linked to the question of the desire of the other in its ethical dimension insofar as it bears the possibility of alterity, of authentic otherness. Of course it's never easy to be young and gay, but it's even more difficult in an isolated French province in the early 60s. It is then that Maïté's emotional support proves to be fundamental for François, as he will comprehend that his initial object of desire may well be out of his reach.
The characters of the film adopt contrasting postures. Serge and François possess an adaptability and flexibility that will become indispensable. Henri and Maïté, however, are determined and stubborn individuals. Henri's teacher tries to make him understand that being strong like an oak is a disadvantage as oaks break when the storm comes, only reeds survive the storm because they bend but do not break. Drawing a divisory line between war and sexuality, Téchiné finally gathers the three boys and the girl in one final sequence that instead of focusing on the cliché of hope is centered on the pervasive reiteration of uncertainty and friendship.
Hace un par de horas se inauguró en la galería barranquina Yvonne Sanguineti "Detrás del espejo", de Lucy Angulo Lafosse. Aunque no pude salir de COSAS tan temprano como hubiese deseado, igual llegué a tiempo para poder admirar el abstraccionismo depurado de los cuadros de la artista; ella, sin duda, ha emprendido una trayectoria que aborda sin ambages figuras concretas subsumidas en un una puesta en escena densa, que sin ser abigarrada crea una sensación de completitud. Con estos cuadros podemos adivinar su proceso de búsqueda y de investigación. Sin duda, Lucy Angulo Lafosse ha evolucionado con los años, y con esta muestra podemos comprobar que marcha por buen camino.
Apenas llegué me encontré con mi gran amigo Marcos Palacios, y estuvimos conversando un buen rato. Marcos participa en una muestra colectiva que se inaugurará este viernes, en Euroidiomas, así que haré todo lo posible para ir. También hablé un rato con Hugo Alegre y Carmen Alegre, y me encontré con Tito Giesecke, un amigo de mi padre. En el transcurso de la noche también saludé a Tatiana Paez Sanguineti, Yvonne Sanguineti y, desde luego, a Lucy Angulo Lafosse. Luego de varias copas de vino blanco, me despedí de Marcos y de los demás, sin duda todavía había diversión para rato pero yo tenía que dormir mis 8 horas para poder llegar lúcido a la oficina. Gajes del oficio.