Frederic, his wife Frederique, and their entire clan are spending another summer in their family house deep in the verdant Provençale countryside. A solitary gay man, Hugo, has moved in next door. After a convivial dinner,... more » Frederic and Hugo stay up on the terrace until dawn, exchanging their radically different visions of love. Entirely unaware of their exchange, Frederique nonetheless notices a distance opening up between her and her husband, and a powerful bond developing between Frédéric and Hugo a bond which grows stronger daily.« less
Strand Releasing has a new hit on its hands, "The Man of my Life". It is beautifully filmed and tenderly directed by Zabou Breitman. The story is of a relationship between a married man and his gay neighbor during a summer in Provence, France. A couple and their young son invite friends and family to spend the summer holiday with them and a neighbor, a middle-aged single man is invited to the first night outdoor party. We quickly learn that the neighbor is gay and as the movie progresses and the husband begin a friendship. It sounds simple enough and it is but what catches the viewer are the beautiful visual aspects of the film and the wonderful background music. Both make the movie a feast for the eyes and ears. "The Man of my Life" is a languid morality tale about a couple that seems to be completely happy but whose certainty about their marriage is shaken by unexpected homosexual flirtation. Frederic (Bernard Campan who gives a wonderful performance), his wife Frederique (Lea Drucker) are again vacationing at their favorite spot in Provence at Frederic's family home. The usual endless stream of family and friends visits them but this year Hugo (Charles Berling) is a new addition to the crowd. When Frederique suggests that Hugo be invited over, things begin to change in the idyllic setting. Hugo is not one for large parties and prefers quiet tête-à-têtes but does manage to shake things up at the first party that he attends by announcing that he is gay. As the party begins to come to a close, we see Hugo and Frederic on the terrace discussing love. Hugo claims to only be in love while making love and reality wants no part of what is known as love. Frederic feels quite differently and says that it is love that makes a person feel alive. This chat is the opening of what is to become a relationship between the two men and the bond that they form threatens to become something stronger and more intense than just friendship. Frederic begins to lose interest in having sex with his wife and she feels that she is about to lose her husband to another man. At different places during the film, we return to the terrace and that night when the two men first spoke to each other. We hear Hugo's thoughts on love and passion and they make an impression on Frederic. It is these impressions that propel the plot and take us to new levels not often expressed on film. The film is basically a middle-age coming-of-age story but it is so richly portrayed that it touches the viewer deeply. The performances are wonderful and the way a relationship comes into being after an all night conversation is portrayed achingly beautifully. This is not a straightforward love story but is about the transformation and awakening of a man who had not been paying attention to his own life. Zabou Breitman chose to open up the unconventional with this film and shows us that each of us is looking for an answer. We are on a journey as we try to formulate a stance on love and how it is situated in our lives. She looks at all aspects of masculine love and presents us with the alternatives to what so many think is the only way to live. The film is romantic, exceedingly so but it is also very realistic. We learn gradually about love as seen and explained by the characters. What could easily have been a rather sappy movie turns out to be one of sublime beauty and a pleasure to watch. "
Best gay movie in a long time......5 out of 5 stars
Queer North Cineaste | Toronto | 01/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this movie. The best gay themed film I've seen in years, and probably one of the better movies I've seen in general, in the last few years. The slow reveal of the main character's desire is brilliant. The axis that the whole movie turns on, and Bernard Campan carries the weight of the film admirably. With a story that is simultaneously tender and tortured in each scene, the director Zabou Breitman shows a deft hand in balancing the evolution of the three main characters. When the husband, the wife and the openly gay neighbour who arrives next door one summer, grow closer as the summer progresses everyone's charms are revealed in unexpected ways. The climax of the film was startling in its realistic portrayal of what would likely happen and the devastation it causes. Charles Berling is amazing in what starts out as a hard edged role that is softened by the end, to reveal layers of character that are unexpected. Truly a beautiful film to watch and a heartbraking story as it unfolds, from every angle.
Like A Beautiful Escapade You'd Lived
Altec | Washington, DC | 02/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed watching this movie from start to finish. It's so entertaining that you dare not blink! It offers great cinematography; the plot flows smoothly, and the cast brings each character to life with vivid portrayals. There's suspense, sexuality, comedy, and hardy emotion. And, most importantly, there are no gimmicky wrap-ups. What more could you ask for in an excellent movie!"
Lyrical exploration of the human heart
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 06/28/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Set in the stunningly beautiful Provencal region of France, "The Man of My life" looks at how both passion and responsibility play an equally crucial role in defining who we are and how we love.
Frederic (Bernard Campan) and Frederique (Lea Drucker) are a happily married couple who enjoy entertaining large groups of people at the country home where they vacation. One day, Frederic invites their next door neighbor, a single gay man by the name of Hugo (Charles Berling), over for a get-together with family and friends. Soon, Frederic and Hugo have struck up a friendship largely centered on their mutual addiction to running and their propensity to talk the night away over such weighty matters as love, passion, responsibility, freedom, commitment and marriage. Hugo tries to convince Frederic that his role as dutiful husband and father has robbed him of his individuality and earlier lust for life, while Hugo, spurned by his father at a young age, comes to his own understanding of the importance of family by the end. There's an obvious sexual attraction between the two men, but the movie goes far beyond the typical coming-out drama to explore romantic passion in all its myriad complexities and forms.
Frederic is torn between the desire to continue loving the wife who so obviously loves him and who has provided a stable home for him and their children - and this new found feeling for Hugo that he can, in no way, shape or form, even begin to understand. The movie never feels the need to judge any of the characters; it presents them simply as well-meaning but flawed human beings who struggle on a daily basis, as all of us do, with an array of emotions, needs and desires that continually come into conflict with one another.
The screenplay by Zabou Breitman and Agnes de Sacy employs long, winding conversations to reveal the truths about the characters and the relationships that help to define them. Moreover, the sensuous, bucolic setting, far from being a mere backdrop to the foreground action, actually serves to pull us into the lives of these people as they while away a languid summer swimming, hiking and exploring the inner workings of their own roiled psyches.
In his direction, Breitman has come up with interesting, slightly abstract ways of filming the commonplace details of everyday life, utilizing extreme close-ups, distorted angles, catawampus framing and mosaic-style storytelling to impart a lyrical tone to the film.
Superb performances by the three leading players also add greatly to the emotional richness of the piece.
With a great deal of insight and tenderness, "The Man of My Life" presents us with a subtly provocative, beautifully realized and psychologically complex view of the human heart. "
A piece of art
Marioh Carey | Mexico | 02/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a gay movie. This is an enjoyable piece of art, which can be watched by both gay and straight people. The problem of Fred about finding his sexual identity should not be restrained to a gay audience. The beautiful cinematography, the perfect captivation of symbolic moments and finally the amazing and serious performances of the main characters (specially Fred's wife), make this film an unforgettable experience. Highly recommended."