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My Life on Ice
My Life on Ice
Actors: Ariane Ascaride, Jimmy Tavares, Jonathan Zaccaï, Hélène Surgère, Lucas Bonnifait
Directors: Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
UR     2003     1hr 42min

After receiving a videocamera for his 16th birthday, a competitive ice skater chronicles the world around him while struggling through adolescence and questioning his sexual identity.


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Movie Details

Actors: Ariane Ascaride, Jimmy Tavares, Jonathan Zaccaï, Hélène Surgère, Lucas Bonnifait
Directors: Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel
Creators: Matthieu Poirot-Delpech, Pierre Milon, Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel, Sabine Mamou, Nicolas Blanc
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/09/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

My real life
Apollinorus | London, UK | 08/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Etienne (Jimmy Tavares) is given a digital camera on his 16th. He starts to film events in Rouen, his entourage, and so we, through him, see his "real life" through the distilling lens of a camera.

Etienne begins by filming his mother (wonderfully acted by Ariane Ascaride), grandmother, and others, in particular his best friend Ludovic, his secret love interest.

He films incessantly: Laurent, his geography teacher, who eventually gets together with his mother, but to whom Etienne also finds himself attracted; his ice skating friends, (also secretly in the cloakrooms while they undress); even himself. But in all this he prefers being behind the camera, choosing to reveal all of himself through his voyage of discovery.

Choosing to make a film about the life of a gay teenager, Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (who also made "Jeanne et le garçon formidable" and the wonderfully refreshing "Drôle de Felix) decided to film digitally, putting the camera at the heart of the story as a character in its own right. This gives the film its great personal attraction. We are all peeping Toms through the eyes of Etienne.

The original method of narration thus employed has its advantages, and some defects. Having Etienne hold the camera allows a cunning freshness and a naivety, but like anybody with a new toy, he films anything and everything, not always worrying about how interesting we may find what he's recording. But that's part of the Gallic charm...

"Ma vrai vie a Rouen" is a cinematographic experiment in self-discovery; a story in which many will find a piece of themselves. Both, modest and touching, the film manages to show us where his and our desire hides - something his friends and relatives have so much difficulty seeing - finding a real life of love that fulfills desires.

In its simplicity of story telling and the pursuit of love this film reminds also of Yossi and Jagger.

Very recommendable.

Self Discovery Through A Camera
david_jon | Glen Cove, NY USA | 01/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"More a film about self discovery than coming out, My Life on Ice is the third film from directors/writers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau. Like their previous film The Adventures of Felix, the main character, Etienne, is on a journey. When he receives a video camera for his birthday, Etiennce begins relentlessly filming the people and events in his life...his mother, grandmother, best friend Ludovic, and his teacher Laurent.What starts as a way for him to chronicle the coming year of his life (a year, he tells Ludovic, that he will find love), becomes a discovery for both the viewer and Etienne himself. We learn as much about him from the events of his life as we do about the subjects his camera lovingly captures. Is there a reason most of his subjects are men? To try and explain the plot of this movie, if there really is one, is to not do it justice. The movie is shot entirely through the lens of Etienne's camera, but never seems gimicky, forced, or unbelievable. We are part of his life, and because of this, we take an interest in Etienne's ultimate discovery about himself.The fact that Etienne is a figure skater (actor Jimmy Taveres is himself an accomplished skater) plays prominently in the movie. His goals for the year ahead are to win a figure skating competiton, find happiness, and find true love, although not necessarily in that order.How, or even if, he reaches these goals is the real treat of this charming movie, filled with appealing, believable characters."
Smile for the Camera! Oh, Have You Had Sex Yet?
interested_observer | San Francisco, CA USA | 02/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

""My Life on Ice" (Ma vraie vie a Rouen) shows how a 16-year old French student and figure skater uses a gift digital camera to explore his world and his relationships, allowing him to make some decisions and forays.Etienne (played by Jimmy Tavares) gets along very well with his widowed mother, Caroline (played by Ariane Ascaride) and his step-father's mother, Granma (played by Helene Surgere). When Granma wins a digital camera in a lottery, she passes it on to Etienne at the start of the movie. Etienne figures the camera out immediately and takes pictures of what matters most to him - his mother and grandmother, his skating, his best friend, Ludovic (played by Lucas Bonnifait), his geography teacher, Laurent (played by Jonathan Zaccai), and his skating partner (played by Nicolas Pontois). The picture recording becomes obsessive. Etienne tries to keep the proceedings fun and natural but is able to take advantage of Ludovic's vanity to have him answer questions on the sex he has when dating girls. Eventually Etienne's movie stars ask him to leave them more of their privacy.Early on Ludovic hears Etienne's proclamation that the coming school year is the Year of Love, when he will fall in love and have sex. Well, maybe he will have to compete first in the French ice skating championships (in which he comes in second). Later on Ludovic remembers and suggests that Etienne get a move on in courting the ladies.Etienne does finagle an early meeting between his mother and the geography teacher, who hit it off and become a couple. Laurent makes an easy-going father-figure, but what does Etienne really think of that, especially since Laurent has been making observations of his own.After Laurent has an accident, Etienne asks Ludovic a dangerous, leading question, triggering a logical next step and leading to a happy, unexpected conclusion.Etienne is not a trained photographer; so the picture shown has technically poor editing, lighting, and composition from time to time. The quality picks up as Etienne improves and uses a remote control. The movie's makers do produce order from the quasi-amateur efforts; so it's all right.While Etienne is a friendly, endearing fellow, he does not verbalize his inner self. He uses his camera to explore his interests and draws his own conclusions. Unlike what traditionally happens in this type of movie, there are no soliloquies, journals, class essays, or sobbing to sympathetic female classmates or family members. Etienne is following a normal coming-out process, but relying on an unusual prop. He does push his luck. The is curious and exploring. The audience has to work a little bit.The ending was abrupt, elliptic, and happy. Maybe there could be a sequel?While Etienne takes some skin shots of his skating partner, of Ludovic (thrice), and of Laurent, the main character goes the distance himself more than once, earning extra points for looks and bravery. All the main actors are good. Jimmy Tavares and Nicolas Pontois do their own expert figure skating. The sets and Normandy locations (Rouen, Dieppe, the coast) are attractive. It was nice to have a cameo from Frederic Gorny of "Wild Reeds." The extras include a very good commentary from the two directors (Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, who also did "The Adventures of Felix"), a trailer, and previews of three other movies."
A small gem of a film
James D. Leverton | San Marcos, CA USA | 09/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

""My Life on Ice" (2003) is a small gem of a film and the best kind of surprise--an intriguing, experimental French import released directly to DVD which offers more charm, wit, warmth and wisdom than 99% of today's Hollywood offerings.

French directors Jacques Martineau and Olivier Ducastle have fashioned their film as a video diary, filmed by young Etienne as he enters his seventeenth year. After receiving a video camera from his grandmother, he immediately begins constantly filming his mother, her boyfriend, his friends, and even himself in the year he dubs "the year of love", vowing to find love before his seventeenth birthday. As the year progresses, we learn much about Etienne mainly through what he chooses to film. It isn't long before it becomes apparent that Etienne, who is an extremely good-looking young man, has no interest whatsoever in girls, but plenty of interest in his hunky best friend and his mother's new boyfriend, who is also his teacher. What follows is a wonderful and realistic variation on a stale cinematic convention: the gay coming-of-age story.

One of the reasons "My Life on Ice" works so well is that the directors have actually filmed this story over a year's time, so we actually watch Etienne grow through the course of the film, much as he would in real life. Also, Etienne is a figure skater, played by an actor (Jimmy Tavares) who is a talented figure skater in real life, which adds to the realism. Also, they have their lead actor do as much of the filming as possible with the hand-held camera and have framed the picture so the audience appears to be watching home movies. This is one cinematic experiment that works extremely well.

As Etienne, Tavares is wonderfully natural and an appealing subject. Actually, the entire cast is pitch-perfect, as they begin the film extremely camera-conscious and then gradually get more comfortable until it appears they have almost forgotten the camera is there at all. And all the emotions of being filmed are there--the initial reluctance, the annoyance, the tantrums, the amusement. In all, Martineau and Ducastle hit the bullseye with this little delight.

My only problem is with the ending, which seems a bit abrupt, especially considering all that Etienne has gone through emotionally. My guess is many gay viewers will also be somewhat disappointed that the directors choose to end the film at the precise moment they do. Otherwise, this film works on every level.

An added treat on this DVD is the commentary (in English) by the co-directors, who are lovers in real life. Although they sometimes struggle with their English, they offer much insight into their filming techniques and why they chose to film over a year's time. Also, they are obviously enamored of their (very) young star, who they nearly swoon over at times, which is quite endearing to listen to. In all, "My Life on Ice" is highly recommended. **** (out of *****)"