a film by Stéphane Giusti
1997 | 87 mins | France
›› The Man I Love - L'homme que j'aime
a spirited outing of the 'love at first sight' scenario
The Man I Love by Stéphane Giusti Do you believe in love at first sight? Well the star of our show Martin does, having fallen for the mind and body of Lucas; the new high-diving lifeguard at the local swimming pool where he works. Trouble is, Lucas is straight. Or is he, given Martin promptly invites himself into Lucas' home, sensing in him something that already made him tell the man of his desire that "I like you" and not just a little bit! Trouble is, so too does Lise, Lucas' girlfriend. Only how long will she remain the love of his life, given there's a new boy in town with the hots for her man?

An interesting feature this one, for this spirited romance is not quite what it appears to be on face value. For whilst 'love at first sight' remains its celluloid foundation stone, the heartstrings of this film repeatedly alternate between heartwarming and heartwrenching, given this is equally a work with a strong AIDS theme to it. That Martin is living on borrowed time is reflected in his impulsive streak, declaring his love to the 'confused straight man' of the piece from day one, given he knows that he literally has no time to waste in his pursuit of 'the one.'

The Man I Love by Stéphane Giusti To that end, writer and director Stéphane Giusti delivers an achingly realistic depiction of gay love complete with a closing reel that includes an act that was still years in becoming a legal entity at the time of its production. Passionate and physical, this is a film that defies categorisation; an AIDS feature - yes, but far from your standard scenario. A gay romance - undoubtedly, but hardly conventional. Or is this just another coming out tale, French style? What is clear is that Jean Michel Portal as Lucas plays the straight, well perhaps not so straight male of the piece to a tee, only for Marcial Di Fonzo Bo as Martin to steal the show, inspite of the fine work from Mathilde Seigner as Lise and Vittoria Scognamiglio as Martins' all embracing mother Rose - and boy does she live up to her name!

Set within the beautiful seaport of Marseille and with vistas to match, this compelling, poignant, but above all touching film repeatedly voices the words "my love," only to add more, would be saying. Yes it includes the odd surreal scene in the form of an earlier lover, let alone one too many coincidences, not least of which is the fact that the Doctor who knows the true state of Martins' health, just happens to be Lucas' father. But that said, this also marks a feature that took time out to highlight the work of the French arm of the ACT UP movement and their 'silence = death' campaign for better treatments and care. In short, this is yet another gem of a largely unknown telemovie, being in effect, gay cinema with a soul. Need more be said?
Was available on DVD as part of the dearly missed Picture This! catalogue
starring: Jean Michel Portal, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Mathilde Seigner, Vittoria Scognamiglio, Jacques Hansen,
Stéphane Lévêque, Karim Lounis, Bernard Nissile, Bruno Bonomo
cameo appearance by Stéphane Giusti as Jérôme
Copyright 2009 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #206
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