Saturday, June 09, 2007

Movie Watch! - Grande école

Grande école (2004) - After watching La Doublure and seeing how absolutely stunning Alice Taglioni looked, I decided to watch some of her other films. I looked at my Netflix queue and realized that Grande école was already in my queue, so I moved it to the top. It was everything I would have suspected it to be: a film that tries to a say a lot about everything. Writer/director Robert Salis attempts to tackle sexual politics, racial and religious inequity, class division as a whole in France, class division within the elite class itself, and even the difference between business and humanities. There was just so much going on that it was difficult to keep it all in order at times, but I was captivated enough to keep watching. Gregori Baquet plays Paul, a student who comes to the top business school from the southwest part of France, a countryman at heart who feels angst at his wealthy parents' choice to keep him away from the blue-collar construction workers they employed. He continues to stand up for the lower-class worker, even as those around him question his choice. He lives in an apartment with nerdy redhead Chouquet and the studly handsome, extremely well-bred, water polo-playing Louis-Arnault (played by Jocelyn Quivrin, who was actually in Syriana). Paul's girlfriend Agnès (Taglioni) notices Paul's increasing fascination with Louis-Arnault and, feeling as though it could end the security within her relationship, decides to make a risky, rather psychotic bet with Paul: whoever can seduce Louis-Arnault first "wins". Bizarre. Very bizarre. At the same time, Paul becomes physically intimate with one of the workers at his school, a Frenchman of Arab descent whom Paul stood up for when he was being chided on the job. The sexual entanglements of all these young, gorgeous French folk is fascinating when their clothes are off, neurotic when their clothes are on, and just a little discomforting to see unfold. The cinematography, which takes into account a strong sense of the scenery's architecture, is often breathtaking, the direction is well-paced and focused, and the characters feel intense, but real, in a way nobody on The WB's wimpy dramas could ever comprehend. Quivrin's entire wardrobe was furnished by Lanvin, which alone makes this film worth watching. I did have a problem with casting Baquet for the role of Paul. He looked almost too old, his hair was distastefully bleached, and he just didn't fit into the vision of gorgeous but misguided country bourgeois that I had in my mind. I think even Gaspard Ulliel would have been a fine choice for the role. But that's just wishful thinking. 8/10

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