The wonderful and ambitious film examines issues of race, art and romance both gay and straight in modern France through a quartet of very diverse young friends united by a common factor: their unrequited love for one anot... more »her.« less
"This film has been vastly under-estimated. This film, by the young star of _Wild Reeds_, presents us with a number of characters who simply do not connect, despite their desparate needs for love and friendship. The lesson: we all desire others, but others simply cannot be what we want them to. In particular, _Full Speed_ deals with the speed of youth. That is, how quickly and passionately we come together in youth, how passionate these short relationships are. When you are young, life moves too fast. There is not a happy ending. This is a good thing--since the Hollywood desire for a happy resolution to conflict strikes one as just plain false. Consequently, the film feels real."
'Full Speed' slows down after the first turn!
Billy J. Hobbs | Tyler, TX USA | 06/26/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Out" magazine may write that "Full Speed""plays like a modern 'Rebel without a Cause' or 'Splendor in theGrass,' but this French film fails to really take off for its intended destination. In fact, it comes as somewhat of a disappointment.It is director Gael Morel's debut film (Morel starred in the five-star "Wild Reeds" by Andre Techine) and more power to him in future films, but here the metaphor of speed to life lumbers a bit in its symbolism. Granted, it has its moments, but its aim seems to meander a bit, leaving a few loose ends. Cinematically, of course, the film stands strong (Certainly as a debut film for its director, it deserves accolades.).And while it was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, "Full Speed" never really gets out of first gear. Morel concentrates on an eternal quadrangle--three men and a woman--and quickly exploits and exposes their weaknesses--all of which cresendo at a great speed on the one hand, but when moving into second, it begins to run out of gas. Hailed by some as a Gay Achievement in Film, that may be, but its meaning and its beauty founder."
Love: Four Divertimenti
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gaël Morel co-wrote (with Catherine Corsini) and directed this very French exploration of the manifestations of love in a style that feels more like eavesdropping on private encounters than on a linear drama. The plot is actually tightly woven around each of the four characters, at the same time giving the effect of four characters' viewpoints on love.
Samir (Mezziane Bardadi) is a French Arab from Algeria who opens the film in a tender frolic with his 'blood brother' and quickly witnesses the accidental death of the man he loves. He travels to a small town in France, lonely, needy, feeling like an outsider (remember the history of the French Algerian conflict) and encounters a young novelist Quentin (Pascal Cervo) celebrating the publication of his first novel with his best friend Jimmy (Stéphane Rideau) and his girlfriend Julie (Élodie Bouchez) in a dance bar. Samir and Quentin make eye contact and soon a brief assignation outside the club leads to a kiss that the vulnerable Samir views as a sign of love but that Quentin views as strange but as possible content for his next novel.
Quentin loves Julie, Julie loves Quentin, but has an eye on Quentin's best friend Jimmy, a lad faithful to his friendship with Quentin to the point of fending off Julie's enamourment. But when Quentin and Samir begin spending extended periods of time together (Samir longing for a physical relationship, Quentin refusing but intent on gathering information for his novel), affinities are tested. Quentin departs for Paris to write, Jimmy and Julie begin a lusty affair, and Samir feels again deserted by a lover. Samir is attacked by gay bashers and defended by Quentin who in the course of the fight sustains a head injury, an injury at first easily resolved but one that later leads to tragedy. Quentin returns from Paris to discover Julie has found love with Jimmy and while Samir's obsession with Quentin races at the new availability of Quentin as a partner, Quentin is disgusted and returns to his career as a writer in Paris and the story comes to a protracted ending with a series of sad incidents: Quentin, the core of each of the love stories remains aloof, dedicated to his growing fame as a writer and gleaning the events as fodder for his assent to literary fame.
The stories are bound with threads of same-gender love, homophobia, human frailty and need. The actors are all beautiful for the eye and render tender performances. The countryside of France is exquisitely captured by cinematographer Jeanne Lapoirie and director Gaël Morel manages to weave these little stories in a conversational, simple manner that appeal to the heart and the eye. For some the film may seem rambling and disconnected and unfairly compared to 'The Wild Reeds', but Morel has a sensitive, gentle manner in setting a mood that allows it to flow like a stroll through the flowering woods of young passions. Recommended. Grady Harp, January 06 "
Wild Reeds Reunited
Paul in London | 09/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Full Speed [A toute vitesse] reunites three of the best young stars to come out of France in a long time: Stephane Rideau and Elodie Bouchez, directed by Wild Reeds co-star Gael Morel. The viewing experience of some films is enhanced by watching another one first. This is the case here. Before you watch this movie, go out and buy (that's right, don't rent, buy) The Wild Reeds [Les roseaux sauvages]. At Full Speed is fine by itself, no question, but you'll enjoy it a lot more if you watch The Wild Reeds first. It was made by André Téchiné two years before. For those who don't know, André Téchiné is a wonderful French director who has a certain knack for beautifully-filmed movies. Even from watching one of his movies you can pick up on his techniques. Well, Gaël Morel, the director of this movie and one of the stars of Reeds picked up so much from Téchiné that he decided to make movies himself. After several shorts made-for-tv, some starring Rideau, this is his first major motion picture. Unless you knew for sure that Téchiné was not the director you'd swear he made Full Speed. All his little trademark techniques are there. Morel starred in Reeds with Rideau and Bouchez, and one of the plot elements was the Algerian war in the 60's. In Speed, Morel has Rideau and Bouchez together again, with the Algerian war is a plot element, retrospectively though, as At Full Speed is set in modern times. Further, these actors, Rideau and Bouchez, both wonderfully talented in their own right, went on to star together in several other movies, and Morel directed them in a few of those. Kind of like a French brat pack. Stéphane Rideau is one of these French sex-symbols, and any film he's in is worth watching. He's been compared to a modern-day James Dean. Set in a Paris suburb, in Full Speed we see Rideau (Jimmy) as a rebellious but sensitive young man dealing with his best friend Cervo's sudden fame as a young author. Bouchez has the same trouble in her relationship with Cervo. The distance between them all increases when a young gay Algerian with a story to tell steps in. Rideau and Bouchez hook up, and Cervo doesn't seem to care about them anymore: he has the young Algerian to write about. He wrote about Rideau, published his story, and now he's moving on. This all goes on against a background of a modern French ethnic suburb. A variety of emotional set-tos take place amongst the four characters illustrating betrayal, isolation, loneliness, and introspective conflicts, all ending tragically. Critics claimed that Full Speed was sometimes disjointed, with scenes that seem to have nothing to do with what's going on, or an ending that makes no sense at all (as is sometimes the case in French movies, you're left wondering what happened). But in this movie, while the continuity may not be as didactic as some mainstream blockbuster moviegoers might like, the connectivity is apparent if the viewer pays attention and listens to what's going on, something sorely lacking in North American audiences. Whether this is possible by simply reading sub-titles is unclear, so try to follow the dialogue if you can understand French. This movie is a fine first major effort on the part of Morel, and most of the credit for its success goes to Rideau and Bouchez. And André Téchiné too for sure. And Morel knows it. A must-see for both Rideau fans and for fans of French dramas featuring attractive young men and women. But remember, see The Wild Reeds first to enjoy this one more. Rideau and Morel are reunited onscreen once more by Techine in Loin, another must-see French movie."
A Truthful Portrayal
Artist & Author | Near Mt. Baker, WA | 03/09/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Looking at this movie, one would think that France, especially among teenagers, is quite a 'wild west' place. Apparently, they don't believe in settling disputes peacefully; just get a gang and beat up one's enemy, or just shoot him. However, one aspect becomes quite clear. Most of the violence revolves around 'homopreferance.' I'm not sure that Samir being Arab was truly a factor; he seemed to be accepted as a person. All the problems occurred due to his gender inversion. When he tried to 'come on to Quentin, he was rightly rebuffed in disgust. When one of the group is killed trying to defend Samir, it is he who takes up the gun. Again, it seems clear that the dead friend wasn't defending Samir's inversion; it was an act of decency to defend another human being in danger.
This is one movie where gaysex is presented in the way that the overwhelming proportion of the population views it. The person is worth protecting, even if his inversion is disgusting. That, in no way, condones his chosen sexprefernace. If your teens are willing to watch a subtitled movie, this one raises these orientation and violence questions that could prove useful discussing as a family."