Mar 16, 2014

The Innocents: In the South of France, Everybody Wants Everybody

Movies and tv programs typically permit same-sex relationships only when they are interracial.  The racial stratification "stands in" for gender stratification, male-female transposed into white-black in America, British-Indian in Britain, and in France French-Arab.

In The Innocents (1987), André Téchiné uses several French-Arab relationships to mirror the tensions between France and its former colonies.

The gay teenager Alain (stage actor Stephane Onfroy, in his only film appearance) has been living in the southern port city of Toulon with the Algerian Said (Abdel Kechiche), a thief and hustler.

Said's main client is the German musician Klotz (Jean-Claude Brialy), who has an Arab fetish.

Alain's sister Jeanne (Sandrine Bonnaire) arrives to look for a reconciliation, and moves in with Said and Alain.

She begins relationships with both Said and Klotz's son Stéphane (Simon de la Brosse), who is bisexual also, but has a mysterious antipathy to Said.  She suspects that they were formerly lovers.

Confused yet?  Don't be: just think "Everybody is interested in everybody," and concentrate on the beach scenes.

Turns out that Stéphane belongs a radical racist organization which set fire to an immigrant hostel, and was stabbed by Said in retribution.

They argue over Jeanne, and Stéphane has his organization target Said.

The only innocent is the gay teenager, Alain.

Many of the cast members have a gay connection.

Simon de la Brosse (1965-1998) was working as a waiter when he was discovered by gay talent agent Dominique Besnehard. for the heterosexual-awakening Pauline at the Beach (1983).  He was reputedly gay or bisexual in real life.

Jean-Claude Brialy (1933-2007) was gay.

Abdel Kechiche went on to direct the lesbian-themed Blue is the Warmest Color (2013).

The movie is not out on DVD, but you can see it on Full TV

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