Sep 4, 2013

Criminal Lovers: Heterosexist Postmodern Fairy Tale

Criminal Lovers, or Les Amants Criminels (1999), directed by Francois Ozon, was advertised heavily in gay publications and in the gay-specific TLA Video.  But it's an aggressively, unabashedly heterosexist thriller, with a minor gay sex scene.

High schooler Alice (Natacha Regnier) gets her boyfriend-stooge Luc (Jeremie Renier) to murder their classmate Said (Salim Kechioche, right, but don't get your hopes up; this photo is from another movie.)

After burying the body in the woods, the two get lost on the way back to their car, and encounter L'Homme de Foret or "The Woodsman" (Predrag Manojlovic, top photo), a shaggy, wild-eyed man who can only be described as a fairytale ogre.  He imprisons them in his basement and provides food for Luc but not Alice, stating that "I like my girls thin and my boys fat."

Eventually L'Homme convinces Luc to have sex with him.

The heterosexual lovers escape, with L'Homme in hot pursuit.  They arrive back at their car, only to encounter the police, who shoot Alice and arrest both Luc and L'Homme. The end.

This is a postmodern fairy tale, with disparate and contradictory pieces of the story not quite falling into place. Why did Alice really want Said murdered? Who is L'Homme de Foret, and what does he really want?  Why are the police still buzzing around the car, days after the murder?

Maybe this was advertised as a gay-themed movie, but it is aggressively, unabashadly heterosexist. Luc's one on-camera sexual experience with L'Homme is as skittish and underplayed as a episode of Will and Grace, and it only serves to boost his confidence sufficiently for him to initiate loud, graphic heterosexual sex with Alice.

At least there's a bit of frontal nudity.

Jeremie Renier has played gay characters several times, but his only film available in the U.S. is the heterosexist Brotherhood of the Wolf.  Salim Kechioche, who doesn't have nearly enough locker-room and shower scenes, has played gay character before, but here plays a heterosexual.