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Like a Brother
IMDB Rating: 5.8/10 from votes
Release: April 2005 (Italy) /

Like a Brother

Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Bernard Alapetite,
Stars: , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Sebastien is a small town boy who moves to Paris and begins to explore the gay night life there. When a friend from back home calls to announce he's coming to Paris, Sebastien confronts some unrequited feelings.

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Critic Reviews

The directors and star of Comme un frere were in town for a screening at the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival yesterday. The screening I attended looked to be a sell-out, but I can only think that the audience was primarily attracted by the cunning use of a "boys on the beach" promotional photograph rather than any Fesitival buzz surrounding the film itself.

One of the directors spoke rather charmingly (in French) about how he was inspired by British cinema, particularly by the gritty realism of Mike Leigh and Stephen Frears. He found their films, however, too "noir" and hoped to make something more optimistic in Comme un frere. Well, all I can say is that the French idea of optimism is like the Luftwaffe's idea of town planning, so hopes were not particularly high.

Comme un frere (Like a Brother) is the tale of Zack (Benoit Deliere), a pretty blond lad who has come to Paris to explore his sexuality. He clubs, he hooks up on chat lines, he has a beauty routine that would put Elizabeth Arden to shame. But, as seems to be obligatory in all French cinema, he is pining for something.

That something is Romain (the extraordinarily beautiful Thibault Boucaux), his best friend, left behind in the Styx when Zack moved to the big city. Scenes of Zack and Romain on the beach, hanging about in cafés and even (platonically) sharing a bed have a tendresse that is deeply touching - but their scenes are filmed in a washed out grey that removes any sense of what made this time special for young Zack.

By contrast, the Paris scenes have a colourful vibrancy that makes one wonder why on earth Zack would be pining for his dreary seaside town, with or without the lovely Romain.

If you're thinking "It seems to me I've heard that song before" then you've nailed the problem with Comme un frere. Young men with unrequited crushes on their best friends have been a staple of gay cinema since the year dot, and Comme un frere has nothing new or fresh to add. The performances are generally good, with some real star potential from Boucaux, and the sex scenes are filmed with urgency and passion, but the inconclusive ending (which really does seem as if the producers just ran out of money and had to stop filming) and the absence of anything to make this stand out from the crowd make it a fairly lacklustre affair.

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