Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2023 9:44 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 1:50 pm
Posts: 4887
Location: California/NYC


Honoré's younger self confronts destabilizing influences

Most of Christophe Honoré's films are only slightly autobiographical. This one is very much so. The young protagonist, Lukas Ronis (Paul Kircher), sometimes wears the kind of checked jackets that are the director's trademark, and Honoré himself plays the boy's (his own) father. The father dies early on in a car accident, running head-on into a truck, coincidentally shortly after a ride with his son in which they were run off the road. The rest of the film will be about the young openly gay, but emotionally unstable, Lukas' effort to cope with this shocking event and perhaps his own self-doubts. The film confronts these difficult early events in the filmmaker's life.

Honoré's Sorry, Angel/Plaire, aimer, et courir vite (NYFF 2018) was also, even more fulsomely, autobiographical. It dealt with what the filmmaker called "les jours sinistres et terrifiants" - the grim and terrifying days - of the Eighties and Nineties, the days of AIDS, when Honoré first came from Rennes and made his career in Paris. Winter Boy is a less full portrait and a less successful film, but it is not without complexity and doubtless deserves a place as a portrait of early development and early struggle.

Most of all it merits our attention for the beauty and graceful touch of the young find, Paul Kircher, in the lead. Rarely have instability and anguish been made to feel so lighthearted. The supporting players are also fine. Juliette Binoche as usual is emotionally strong and appealing as Lukas' mother and Vincent Lacoste, who was the lead in Sorry Angel, feels fresh as Lukas' older brother, Quentin - and looks fresh too, with a different wardrobe and bleach-brushed hair, although the theme of sibling conflict isn't as fully developed as in Honoré's Dans Paris (R-V 2007).

Honoré isn't, by a long sight, embodying as many roles and selves here as in Sorry, Angel, but Lukas does some turnabouts. After he's been fetched from boarding school and only gradually told that his father, who's "in the hospital," is dead, and he's tucked into bed, he has a screaming fit that leads to his being injected with a strong sedative. Later he's very sweet with his aggrieved mother. When Quentin takes him to his apartment in Paris for a fortnight, he stops along the way to play eager bottom one last time with his boyfriend Oscar (Adrien Casse) - a bit of explicit gay sex for the viewer and proof that Lukas has been there, done that.

He's inappropriate, goofy, forward, and giddily risk-taking at Quentin's place, and isn't much chastened by his older brother's admonitions that it's his place, his work as an artist, to stay out till six p.m., and not to bother his roommate Lilio (Erwan Kepoa Falé). But Lilio is tall, black, and tricks with older men, and Lukas sees a romance here and not only that, wants a piece of Lilio's action. While Lukas is out in Paris on his own, the film cuts back and forth between him talking to a priest in a church about the Resurrection and him having sex with a young guy he met on the street - in the same, he thought, great day.

It seems obvious that Lukas can get into a lot of trouble and is pretty weak in the impulse control department. Later, when Quentin sends him back to the provinces and his mother takes him to Chambéry for boarding school again, he does what too many teenage boys do, and winds up in a long recovery period. Some of this action seems very random as Honoré seeks to capture the instability of his young self, and then some. A frequent voiceover by Lukas and a brief one by his mother seem aimed to provide some kind of stability. Despite an interesting silent-protagonist section and a sweet romantic exchange with Lilio, however, the film's last quarter loses energy and direction. But Lukas as incarnated by Kircher, is a runner, illustrating literally the third item in Sorry, Angel - to please, love, and run fast. In ignoring the creative side of his younger self here, Honoré relegates the film somewhat to the collective category of many emotionally fragile young male coming-of-agers, despite the open gay sexuality. And despite being "out" early, and the enlightened attitudes of his family, Lukas still imagines that his father looked down on him for being gay.

Winter Boy/Le lycéen, 122 mins., debuted Toronto Sept. 9, opening in French theaters Nov. 30, 2022, also showing at a dozen other festivals. AlloCiné press rating 3.7 (74%). Screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center Mar. 2-12, 2023.
R-V showtimes:
Thursday, March 9 at 3:30pm
Saturday, March 11 at 6:15pm (Q&A with Christophe Honoré)

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 15 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group