Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Gregori Baquet, Alice Taglioni, Jocelyn Quivrin, Élodie Navarre, Arthur Jugnot
Director: Robert Salis
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
At a school that breeds France's cultural elite, a young man experiences heterosexual and homosexual attraction, power games and racial conflict. Directed by Robert Salis. 5.1 surround sound, 16x9 anamorphic 1.85:1 prese... more »
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Why no theatrical release?
Charlus | New York, NY USA | 10/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An amazing film, far better than so many foreign and indie films released in theatres. Intelligent, erotic, surprising, suspenseful and literate, it keeps your attention from the opening shot (you'll see why) and then unfolds in ways that catch you unawares. I can understand most straight to DVD offerings but this one remains a mystery. A squandered opportunity by Wellspring Releasing (that released that pretentious dud "Twenty Nine Palms"). See it on the small screen if you must but see it."
Desire and the Spectrum of Human Attraction
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Grande école seems to be one of those films that viewers either love passionately or dismiss as a mess. Robert Salis ('À la recherche du paradis perdu') has not only adapted the play by Jean-Marie Besset for the screen, he is also the thoughtful, intelligent, and challenging director of this little masterwork. Though there is much to please the casual eye (the cast is a collection of truly beautiful people!) with sensual scenes as brave as any yet filmed, the real beauty of Grande école is the multilayered story, a story which explores the dichotomies of class, race, gender, philosophy, economic status, and history and social issues - just the sort of milieu expected from a 'big school' environment.
A spectacular opening sequence reveals a castle-like private college in Paris complete with extended pyrotechnic displays of aerial fireworks, a fine metaphor for the personal explosions that will accompany the students in the school year in this college of the prosperous and one heavily weighted toward capitalistic ideals of perpetuating wealth. Paul (Gregori Baquet) is at the onset an oddity: he is he son of a Marseilles contractor, a man who has created a home life of racism and classism, a father who haughtily sends his son to the elite school to learn marketing and management despite the fact that Paul is more inclined toward the artistic aspects of learning. Paul has a girlfriend Agnès (the stunningly beautiful Alice Taglioni) who is a liberal supporter of human rights and while she attends the neighboring liberal arts college, she cannot understand why Paul can't share a flat with her. Paul prefers to live in the dorm and his roommates are the passive Chouquet (Arthur Jugnot) and the pinnacle of materialism Louis-Arnault (Jocelyn Quivrin), who not only is focused on his studies but also on his college water polo team and his girlfriend Emeline (Elodie Navarre).
Paul and Louis-Arnault bond and though Paul has a strongly vivid sexual relationship with Agnès, he finds himself attracted to Louis-Arnault. In a post-game shower room scene Paul sits on the bench viewing the team playfully soaping each other and his sense of sexual awakening is palpable. Paul steals Louis-Arnoult's boxers, lies on his bed and we are aware that he desires Louis-Arnault. During this opening of the school year the three roommates stroll the campus and encounter an argument among the workers: Mécir (Salim Kechiouche), a young handsome Arab from the working class, is being berated and Paul jumps to his defense. The two make eye contact and a chemistry is created. Though neither of the two considers himself homosexual (and there is a beautiful scene that describes that desire is desire whether hetero or homo sexual) but gradually they drift into an erotic world of sexual discovery (in some of the most artistically sensual filming ever created!).
Agnès senses Paul's sexual changes and convinced that his longings are for Louis-Arnault, she poses a wager on which one will have the desirable Louis-Arnault first. Changes and conflicts occur right and left (mise-en-scenes lifted directly from the play) and the bonding of each of the characters is dramatically altered - Paul, Agnès, Louis-Arnault, Emeline, and especially Mécir, who is the only character in the film who seems in touch with his inner person. It is about the social and sexual and class games people play and how these irrational subdivisions of our culture can lead to sad ends.
The cast is not only physically beautiful (and there is sufficient full frontal nudity to gain access to the complete actors!) but they respond to Robert Salis' direction with fine ensemble acting. The interweaving of dream sequences and illusions that accompany the utterly grounded factual storyline enhance the film immeasurably. Emmanuel Soyer is responsible for the gorgeous cinematography and Éric Neveux for the original musical score, a score beautifully complemented by excerpts of the music of Bach, Brahms, Bizet, Donizetti, Puccini and Shostakovich.
As an important and fascinating addition to the CD Director Salis presents an excellent 'making of' segment including deleted scenes (and why they were deleted), running commentary from all of the actors, and a discussion of Foucault's philosophy and the nebulous understanding of 'desire' - a facet of being an alive being. Highly recommended for those who long for challenging films of substance, films that imprint on the psyche for meditation long after the film is finished. Grady Harp, July 05
An interesting film that deserves a look!
David | Media, PA | 03/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Grande Ecole is a beautiful, complex movie, that shines in many areas, and falters in few. In a nutshell, this movie is about desire and unrequited love. Sounds like a lot of movies out there, but this one is unique in its flavor and appeal.
The acting is superb for a such a young cast, and they all look the part, like gorgeous, wealthy, french lovers. I wouldn't mind being in their crew if I lived in the movie, that's fo sho! Five out of the six main characters will bare a lot of flesh, as well as two long shower scenes containing a water polo team sudsing up. It's not so much gratuitous nude scenes, but more to reveal the character's design, maturity, and vulnerability within the context of the plot. Believe me, you'll understand when you see it.
The ending had me wanting more. I wanted more character development, more connection between the differing subplots, and let's face it, more nude shots of Louis_arnault's body. :p
But seriously, I must give credit to the director for creating some really touching scenes. For instance, the scenes between the Arab worker and Paul had a genuine feeling about them; I could sense the discomfort of Paul's burgeoning desires to explore the male body, and the true love the Arab had for Paul.
So if you don't like reading subtitles (I tried to read it while stoned, fahgetaboutit!), high-falutin words, or the occasional lengthy philosophical dialogue, then maybe you should skip this one. But for all others, definitely check this dvd out."
Two For One
Richard Nelson | Chicago, IL | 02/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is really two movies for the price of one.
It's a philosophical French film about class and race differences, sexual orientation and whether it really exists, and the ways that people manipulate and deceive one another. It does an OK job of this, though the heady dialogue sounds more profound being spoken in French than it reads in the English subtitles and the characters behave in ways that often defy believability.
It's also a cavalcade of nudity, as the DVD case should tell you, with both sexes coming in for their share of time under the lens. (Men are actually the winners of the full-frontal contest in this film, with multiple shots of the three male leads as well as a locker room shower scene that exposes the entire water polo team.) If you're offended by bare flesh, you will NOT enjoy this movie. If witnessing casual nudity and people unashamed of their bodies appeals to you, however, you may not care about--or notice--this film's overly-ambitious philosophical overtones or sometimes clunky but ultimately intriguing storyline."