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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

entry arrow9:15 AM | Strings Attached

Mehdi Ben Attia’s Le Fil [The String, 2010] is not a great film, but it is good and is endlessly fascinating — which was a total surprise, since I have been swamped most of my life with gay films that are carbon copies of the same themes of prosecution or coming out or the delicate intricacies of gay friendships in weekend getaways. This one is different, in the way the French seems to be able to achieve difference: in that particular tone French filmmaking achieves, something that delicately balances immersion and distance as we observe realistic and peculiarly fleshed out characters as they go about their daily lives, coping with the everyday bumps the narrative gives them. This is a beautifully photographed, elegantly-paced French-Tunisian film about a wealthy architect from Paris who goes home to Tunisia after his father’s death, where he must confront his homosexuality in the context of his society’s class-consciousness and Islamic mores. Then there are also the expectations of his mother (the glorious Claudia Cardinale) who pressures him to marry. These are the metaphorical strings of the title. Everything comes to a head when he finds himself falling for a young artist, a sometime handyman who lives with them in exchange for free rent. This is the type of queer filmmaking I’ve always wanted to see from Filipino directors — a glossy, sexy, but also socially engaging (but non-pedantic) portrayal of the middle class and homosexuality, without the poverty porn and macho dancing aesthetics that plague so much of Filipino gay cinema. For the most part, this has been achieved with middling success only in Joselito Altarejos’ Little Boy, Big Boy (an interesting film that failed because of poor casting) and Adolfo Alix Jr.’s Muli and Daybreak (both of which are a little too earnest in their melodrama).

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