Title: Grande Ecole Credit: Chris Banks Movies Wednesday 8th June 2005 - 12:00pm1118188800 Article: 764 Rights
Dir: Robert Salis France, 2003 35mm, 110 mins French with English subtitles Grande Ecole is very French, the sort of film where characters sit around in beautifully-composed shots talking about the meaning of life, usually before, during or after shagging. There's also more full-frontal male nudity than you can poke a prick at, entwined with sex, philosophy and class politics. It's a heady but enjoyable mix that at times gets slightly pretentious. Director Salis knows just when to pop the bubble though, by intercutting cunnilingus with a fireworks display, or a shocked-looking piece of artwork with an underwear-sniffing expedition. You know the sort of thing. At times it's a one big gay soap opera, with lashings of Foucault thrown in for good measure. It's Beverly Hills 90210 with a PhD in queer theory, as rich but provincial college student Paul falls in love with his room-mate, rich and arrogant swimmer Louis-Arnault, but only Paul's girlfriend seems to recognise the true depth of Paul's feelings. Louis-Arnault is a bit of a cocktease, and would probably have been slapped for his behaviour were he not so goddamn attractive. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone, Paul is embarking on an affair with working-class Arab boy Mecir, who's working on campus as a painter. It's Mecir who chimes in with the whole post-sexuality theory of the sort that activists find so irritating. When Paul asks how long he's known that he was gay, Mecir replies that hetero and homo are so yesterday. He's in love with Paul because he is Paul, not because he is a man. Back to our main story, where Paul's girlfriend is getting all sweaty at the thought of two men together. She has a plan to fulfill her fantasy and curb Paul's wandering eyes and heart forever, but it's all going to end in tears when it comes to a head. And as for poor old Mecir? That would be telling. Paul's sexual confusion is a bit of a turnoff at times, but it's something that I'm sure some bisexuals in the audience will identify with. The rest are sure to be kept entranced by the turbulent plot, fantastically sensual love scenes, and alluring performers. Yes, this is one of those movies where everyone is inexplicably beautiful, but if we were expecting something else, we'd be in another theatre watching a British kitchen-sink drama. A potboiler with depth, Grande Ecole is likely to stay with you long after the credits roll and the icecream has melted. Chris Banks - 8th June 2005    
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