L'AGE D' HOMME .. MAINTENANT OU JAMAIS / MANHOOD
France, 2007, 88 minutes, Colour.
Romain Duris, Aissa Maiga, Clement Sibony.
Directed by Raphael Fejto.
L'Age D' Homme is a short film, comic touches, focusing on a young man who has to make some kind of commitment for his life and to his partner. It is treated partly in a realistic style but often in a comic and fantasy style.
The film opens with the young man, Samuel, experiencing drowning but hearing a voice that gives him twenty-four hours to make a commitment. During the twenty-four hours, he is very moody, a film director who is proud of himself but in something of a rut. He also goes over his character, his faults, even to infidelity. He is also advised by his friends, some of whom are permissive, one of whom is in love with a lesbian and impregnates her, a group that plays poker together and talks about sex and gives each other advice. Eventually, the young man goes a holiday with his partner, goes to the beach, once again experiences a drowning situation and finds that he can stand on the bottom off water, come out and commit himself. Part of the fantasy is that he is reading a book about Leonardo Da Vinci – and Da Vinci appears to him, with a fondness for rap music, trying to give some kind of advice and provoke the young man into a decision. Romain Duris also portrays Leonardo.
There is an odd half-minute towards the end of the film. Earlier in the film there had been a discussion about whether Christ was the surname of Jesus Christ or what was the meaning of his name. His partner, who rings her parents as well, does not know. When the young man is in the water, Jesus appears walking on the water and explains that Christ is the title he was given as Messiah. There is no other explanation – just an interesting Christian interlude in the film.
For anyone wanting a realistic portrait of a man going through a crisis, this is not it. Rather, with the incessant chatter, the imagination, there are plenty of provocative and challenging aspects to his life – and whether he would remain Peter Pan all his life or grow up.
This is in contrast to Aissa Maiga’s performance as the partner, a very practical woman, organising life, very indulgent and forgiving towards the young man. She has a very charming and attractive on-screen personality – which puts pressure on the young man to make his commitment.
1. A French film? Very French? French comedy?
2. The realism – the city, apartments, bars, the streets? The atmosphere of the city? The contrast with the fantasy? In Samuel’s imagination? The voices, the appearance of Leonardo Da Vinci and his style, the appearance of Jesus? The continual challenge for commitment within twenty-four hours?
3. The title, with reference to Samuel, his age? His still being childish? Unable to take responsibility? Avoiding responsibility?
4. The portrait of Samuel, as a film director, as a person, his relationship with Tina, the first anniversary? At home, his erratic behaviour? Her forgiveness? Their discussions? Her shopping for him, his not wanting the clothes? Her arranging the trip? Her arranging the scenery for the photo shoot? His reaction, his submission? His relationship with his friends, Jorge, his sex talk, his advice? Rashid, the relationship with Sylvia, the lesbian, the pregnancy? With Vittorio?
5. Samuel and his activities, going swimming, the encounter with the girl, their discussion? His going to the club, playing poker? The pick-up? Going to her house? His infidelity and his reactions?
6. The appearance of Leonardo Da Vinci, Samuel reading the book, the illustrations, Da Vinci and his advice, the rap music? The alter-ego of Samuel?
7. Tina, her charm, poise, abilities? Her love for Samuel? Staying in the relationship? At home, her work? Her arranging things, the shopping, the decorations, the flight? Her moods with Samuel? Easily accommodating?
8. Samuel, going to look at the apartment, meeting the girl? Their discussions?
9. The holiday, the beach, Samuel going into the water, swimming – and the advice he got about swimming from his friend, going with the rhythm? His going out to sea? His panic? The question previously about Jesus and his name? The meaning of Christ? Jesus appearing on the water, explaining his name?
10. Samuel, thinking he was in deep water, putting his feet on the sand, walking to the shore? Able to commit?
11. A film for young men, a challenge to their attitudes towards themselves, their strengths, flaws? Commitment? A film for women? Identifying with Tina – her love, her needs?