The Man Of My Life

2006, Movie, NR, 114 mins


French actress-turned-director Zabou Breitman's third feature is a languid, Rohmeresque morality tale about a seemingly happy couple whose certainty about their marriage is shaken by an unexpected flirtation of the homosexual sort.

Frederic (Bernard Campan), his wife Frederique (Lea Drucker) and their young son Arthur (Niels Lexcellent) are once again spending their summer vacation at Frederic's family home in Provence. This year, in addition to the endless stream of family and friends flowing to and from their large, handsome house, Fred and Frederique have a new neighbor, Hugo (Charles Berling), whom Frederique has already admired skinny-dipping in his pool and who Fred has seen while jogging early one morning in the woods. Intrigued, Frederique suggests Fred invite Hugo over for one of their large, noisy barbecues, and Hugo accepts. While friendly enough, Hugo makes it clear that he prefers quiet tete-a-tetes to large gatherings, and makes everyone present uncomfortable by defensively announcing at the earliest opportunity that he's gay. As the party begins to wind down in the early morning hours, Hugo and Fred find themselves alone on the terrace watching the sunrise and intensely discussing the subject of love. Hugo, a graphic designer, wants nothing to do with it and claims to be in love only while he's making love. Fred, a chemist, feels just the opposite: He feels being in love is what makes you feel truly alive. Over the next few weeks, the bond Hugo and Fred forged that night threatens to develop into something stronger than mere friendship. As Fred's interest in sex with his wife dwindles, Frederique begins to unravel, fearing she's about to lose the man in her life to another man.

At key moments throughout the film, Breitman returns to that long night spent on the terrace, and we gradually learn how Hugo's ideas about love and passion were shaped by the painful disappointments of his past, and just how deeply Hugo's talk of sex and passion made an impression on Fred. Shot in high style by Michel Amathieu, the film perfectly captures the feel of languid summer afternoons spent in the south of France, and if the film ultimately amounts to little more than a midlife coming-of-age story, it's richly imagined and filled with fanciful touches that are in keeping with its passionate subject. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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The Man Of My Life
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