The Man of My Life



Strand Releasing

NEW YORK -- There's nothing like the charms of the beautiful French countryside to inspire amour, even between two men, one of whom supposedly is happily married and straight. Zabou Breitman's "The Man of My Life" explores the complications that result from this provocative situation, albeit in the sort of pseudo-poetic, talky manner that induces more snoozing than insight.

The story revolves around the burgeoning attraction between Frederic (Bernard Campan), vacationing for the summer with his beautiful wife (Lea Drucker) and children in the Provencale countryside, and Hugo (Charles Berling), the handsome gay graphic designer who has taken up residence next door.

Almost immediately after they meet, the two men wind up spending a long night together, staring up at the stars and discussing the vagaries of love and relationships. They soon are virtually inseparable, with Frederic increasingly neglecting his wife and becoming more and more emotionally intimate with Hugo. This is despite the contrasting attitudes of the two men, with the former a firm believer in the importance of love and family and the latter disdainful of long-term commitment.

The subtlety with which Breitman and her co-screenwriter Agnes de Sacy handle these events is at first admirable but ultimately stultifying. The talky ponderousness of the proceedings is not alleviated by the frequent attempts at stylization, with the many shots of curtains billowing from the wind and a scene in which the men mysteriously encounter a string quartet in a nearby shack adding to the overall pretentiousness.

The two lead actors deliver highly sensitive performances that unfortunately don't make their characters any more credible, while Drucker is unable to do much with her underwritten role as the scorned wife. The latter aspect is somewhat surprising, considering that this story of male attraction was written and directed by women.



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