This week, the ÉCU Movie Review is dedicated to Frenchies with the movie Two Friends, a feature directed by the french protégé Louis Garrel.
For those who have never heard about the bushy-eyebrowed actor-director, Louis Garrel was born thirty-two years ago with a silver reel in mouth (70mm, of course). Ever since, he has made his own way into the cinema industry, acting notably in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers and collaborating on numerous occasions with the French director and screenwriter Christophe Honoré.
Two Friends is, in a way, the perfect example of “Garrellism”: exceedingly parisien, the movie smells like fags and cheap beer, while the plot is constructed, unsurprisingly, around a love triangle. The ‘three-way’ concept is evidently an obsession for the young man: “it is so enjoyable and cinematically interesting to look at”. Needless to say that his whole filmography seems to corroborate this idea: the Dreamers (2003), Le Mariage à trois (2010), Love Song (2007), The Beloved (2011), and then his short movie La Règle de trois (2011). For Louis, three is definitely the magic number.
But let us return to the matter at hand. Two Friends tells the story of a love triangle between the beautiful and mysterious Mona (Golshifteh Farahani), inmate by night, sandwich-seller by day, and two bffs : Clément (Vincent Macaigne) and Abel (Louis Garrel). The latter, a wannabe-writer and gas station attendant, helps the former, idiot and in love, in his quest for Mona. As we all know, a woman needs to be conquered and one pair is hardly enough.
Pale in comparison to a mythical Jules and Jim, this feature is inspired by the french play, The Moods of Marianne by Alfred de Musset, without ever really reaching its sophistication. It is fairly simple: everything that was meant to happen happens. Mona is on the loose for a while, and in the course of time turns her attention to Abel, disregarding Clement’s fragile feelings. Of course the former, being the man that he is, cannot help but fall for his best friend’s beloved, indulging in self-flagellation and macerating miserably into his betrayal. Eventually she goes back to her cell, leaving the two friends alone, face-to-face.
Everything is so expected that we tend to find ourselves weary from the very beginning. And the movie’s tendency towards transparency does not end there, as every subtlety eventually gets explained. A break-up scene between the two friends is meant to help you understand the likeness between love relations and friendships. A final letter from the prisoner to her mother makes extra-sure you perceived the fact that the girl’s fugue was fuelled by fear. The same conclusion can be drawn regarding the characters, whose frivolousness left us indifferent for the most part. Clément, ugly, sometimes tenderising and always hypersensitive, is drawn towards suicide and foolishness. Abel, the playboy, lives off poesy and love, be it rented, underaged or treacherous.
Mona, we must admit, is absolutely beautiful. She is also absolutely cliché. Free spirit in a caged body, sensual, strong and bold, but fragile and vulnerable at the same test. Brace yourself, the macho myth of the liberated woman is up and running again. She gives in to solitary pleasures in a public bathroom and dances on her own for Abel’s sole benefit, Abel who devours her, idolises her. Naturally, she has tattooed in her generous flesh a bird, subtle reminder that Mona is a free soul. Needless to say that even incarcerated, her life is still more fascinating than yours, and that when you dance in an empty bar, braless, gesticulating wildly, it is not admiration you see on people’s face.
On the positive side, the replicas and situations are often humorous; the whole thing remains light enough for you not to want to pop your eyes out with a spoon. The music, although a bit flashy, is still cool. But it is hard not to get annoyed by the lack of novelty, surprise, audacity. Garrel by Garrel for Garrel. Enough to give us indigestion. —-(Not sure what to write here as don’t want to
Watching Two Friends at least gave us the opportunity to discover this tumblr that should have been titled the Moods of Louis. A bit of derision never hurts!