Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

31 July 2006

François Ozon's Latest

I find François Ozon totally intriguing, of course. He has a stagey quality to his work which I find challenging, encouraging and exciting. His films (the ones I've seen, naturally) also have this air of mystery about them always, as though I am, perhaps, missing something.

Last night I watched his latest, a film called Time to Leave (Le Temps Qui Reste). The title's translation doesn't look accurate to me, but what do I know about French? At any rate, the film is beautiful. It's a poetic end-of-life piece about a young photographer who finds out he has only a few months to live. Once given the information, he proceeds to hurt everyone in his life, telling none of them that he is dying.

In a sane world, the lead actor, Melvil Popaud, would be the first real frontrunner for 2006's Best Actor Oscar. Popaud is outstanding: cruel, difficult, sensitive and fragile all rolled into a face that vaguely resembles Casey Affleck's if Casey Affleck were really, really hot (which, for the record, I don't think he is.) The film also features—drumroll, please—film legend Jeanne Moreau as our photographer's grandmother. It's a wonderful performance filled with regret and anger and blood.

Time to Leave, for me, has a lot of similarities to Patrice Chéreau's Son Frère, mostly because it, too, is an end of life film featuring a prominent gay character. The two films, both rather short (Time to Leave clocks in at around 80 minutes—typical for Ozon) would probably make for a nice double-feature evening, albeit a somber one.

This is an excellent film, full of interesting character work and poetic beauty. Ozon is to be commended, though I think this film is more of a departure from his usual work than anything else.

Recommended, but only if you're a gay man or don't get weirded out by gay sex. There is one rather graphic scene that I know most of my straight friends would rather never see... so don't say I recommended this film to you if you're a breeder.

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