AGENT PROVOCATEUR From the bloody period drama La Reine Margot to the sexually explicit modern (non)romance Intimacy, PATRICE CHEREAU has proved himself to be one of France’s most provocative filmmakers. Here he talks to Tom Dawson about flesh, death and Son Frere.

A sombre and uncompromising work, Son Frere explores the relationship between two estranged siblings Thomas and Luc when the former is diagnosed with a potentially fatal blood disease. ‘Two things struck me about Philippe Besson’s book,’ explains writer-director Patrice Chereau of his decision to adapt this particular novel. ‘Firstly the story of the brothers, who are strangers and who suddenly discover themselves

serenely endures his or her deteriorating condition. ‘I wanted to work with Bruno,’ says the 59-year- old Chereau. ‘And I wanted to push him into areas that he hadn’t gone before. He lost 24 pounds for the

Chereau: I’m not scared of bodies or disease

bodies in that film were healthy and full of desire. In this one they are cold, like dead fish. The problem here is of a lack of desire.’ Ask him, though, why he’s interested in filming bodies and an element of



Diane Lane stars in this unfaithful adaptation of Frances Mayes’ autobiographical book about her summers spent with her new lover renovating a house in the Tuscan hills. Lane moves to Italy after her marriage fails, meeting only Italian men whose motivation is sexual, but this does little to dispel her enthusiasm for life, nor her love of Tuscany and she's soon living la dolce vita.

Being a writer is one of

again, and secondly the idea that somebody is dying in the summer - not the winter. I thought it was interesting to show somebody ill in the bright light of summer, surrounded by active, healthy bodies.’

Bruno Todeschini’s powerfully convincing performance as the stricken brother ensures that Son Frere is far removed from those films in which the protagonist



(12A) 95min 0...

Diagnosed with a potentially fatal blood disorder. thirtysomething Thomas (Bruno Todeschini) drops in unannounced on his younger gay brother, Luc (Eric Caravaca). The two have been estranged for years. but Luc agrees to accompany his sibling to the hospital. There. despite tests. medication, injections and even surgery. the doctors seem unable to halt Thomas‘s painful decline.

Adapted from Philippe Besson's novel, director Patrice Chereau‘s follow-up to Intimacy refuses to traffic in movie cliches about disease and medicine. whereby COurageous patients battle heroically against their conditions. Here what upsets Thomas' father (Fred Ulysses) is the very fact that his son doesn't seem to have any will power for the struggle in hand. and the medical staff can‘t grasp why he refuses to lead a life of caution for the sake of his fragile health.

Cutting backwards and forward in time between wintry Paris and summery Brittany. Son Frere examines in detail the process of Thomas' bodily decay, with Eric Gautier‘s camera starkly rec0rding the pallor of his mottled and bruised skin. the enormous scar left by an operation and his increasingly emaciated frame. A standout scene involves his body hair being methodically shaved off by nurses, watched from the corner by a wordless Luc.

And while concentrating on the fraternal relationship. this exceptionally acted drama conveys how illness impacts on the wider emotional lives of sufferer and carer alike. as both brothers break up with their partners. Finally, there's just one song on the soundtrack of this powerfully austere work Marianne Faithful's lugubrious ‘Sleep'. (Tom Dawson)

I Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 26 Mar. See preview. above.

Powefully austere

role - we started with the death scenes at the beginning of the shoot so he had time to regain the weight. He was very honest and brave in his acting, and I think it helped him that he was surrounded by real patients in a hospital where we shot the film.’

In some ways Son Frére is a companion piece to Chereau’s previous film, Intimacy, although as the filmmaker points out: ‘The

defensiveness surfaces. ‘80 are many people - I’m not the only one. I don’t know why. Sometimes before interviews I try desperately to find some reason to please journalists. Honestly, there is no specific reason. I like to see bodies and I like flesh and skin and it’s all important in my life. I’m not scared of bodies or hospitals or disease.’ I Fi/nihouse. Edinburgh fro/n Fri 26 Mar. See rewew, below.

Right side of saccharine

DRAMA , VALENTIN (PG) 86min 0..

The old actors' adage. 'never work with kids'. is best taken on board by adult cinema goers who should. rightly. generally avoid the pitfalls; of watching cute brats act badly and in a thoroughly irritating manner. Valentin sports an eight-year—old protagonist. complete with National Health specs and cross-eyes. buck teeth and a face-splitting grin. But worst fears are allayed because writer-director Alejandro Agresti's seini-Iautol)iographical film casts diminutive Valentin (Rodrigo Noya) as a child adult eccentric. Imbuing kids with the mental attributes of grown ups humour. passion. vengeance. cynicism has worked in everything from The Tin Drum to Amelie (and if you've never caught the Freiich-Canadian film lee/o do so), and it works here for Agresti.

Poor. funny. sad Valentin. Ills mother walked out on her bOy_ leaving ailing grandma Abuela (Carmen Maura) to bring him up alone in suburban Buenos Aires. Father's absent. too. travelling the world on business. returning occasionally only to show off a new girlfriend. who never lasts. When Valentin gets to spend the day with the latest. Leticia (gorgeous Julieta Cardinali), he falls in love and implores her to become his new mother. All's going according to the precocious kid's plan until he unwittineg reveals to Leticia his father’s ueg anti-Semetic streak. at which point she dumps daddy and walks out of Valentin's life.

Argentina continues its winning streak of film exports (see also Nine OUOO/IS and The Son of the Bride) with this short and sweet drama that's just about the right side of saccharine. (Miles Fielder)

I Selected release from Fri 26 Mar.

the few things that Lane's character has in common with Mayes. In fact. director Audrey Wells does little to disguise the fact that the

Felini rip off

inspiration for Lane is Giulietta Massina in the Fellini classic Nights of Cabiria. The Fellini references do not stop there. Lane’s most dashing lover is called Marcello (after Federico's star, Mastroianni) and she befriends a flamboyant ex-pat played by Lindsay Duncan, who even takes a dip in a fountain a la Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita.

Unfortunately. Wells gives us Fellini as seen through the eyes of a Mills and Boon novel. Whereas Fellini essayed the troubled internal conflict of a woman in a heartless world. Wells delivers only artifice and cliche. (Kaleem Aftab)

I Selected release from Fri 79 Mar.

18 Mar—l Apr 2004 THE LIST 29