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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, December 07, 2010

entry arrow9:01 AM | A Season in Heartbreak

It's not easy to digest the narrative that unspools, like a fraught and fragmented world, in Sébastien Lifshitz's film Presque Rien [Come Undone, 2000]. It does not explain much of itself either, and one is left mostly to one's own devices to fill in the blanks that the film generously gives us. Perhaps it's best to note the change in time registers to make sense of the fragmented story: there's the bright summer of discovering passion and then the dull winter of gathering a scattered sense of self -- and between them there is a season of heartbreak set in a hospital where a beautiful 19-year-old languishes in unnamed melancholy. (Why is he here? This is the question we keep asking ourselves till the very end.) That these fragments of time blend into each other in the narrative is an audacious move in Lifshitz's direction, something that precedes the time-bending films of Alejandro González Iñárritu. And if one is patient enough, one gets finally a full story all told in the exact telling of feeling. What the film does give us with a measure of completeness is the summer love affair that blooms and turns to such realistic heat between two teenage boys -- sensitive Mathieu (played by a glorious and subtle Jérémie Elkaïm in a difficult role) and unfocused Cedric (played by Stéphane Rideau) -- in a seaside French town where Mathieu's mother has come to convalesce from a long bout of depression. Then we get snippets of a future reeling from the consequences of that summer. Just snippets, nothing more, and we are left wondering -- what happened? I think this is a story about how, in life, we meet and come to love people, but how we sometimes find that love is never enough. Especially if it's love between people who just belong to two different worlds. We need connection beyond the temporary giddiness of the carnal. I think, in the end, Mathieu finds that, but the movie simply does not give us the luxury of knowing for sure. It challenges us to find out for sure by way of feel. This is the film's weakness, and its strength. I love this film. It is probably one of the most realistic chronicle of falling in love and the devastating aftermath of heartbreak that has ever been set down to celluloid, without the histrionics of the actual heartbreak.

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