Which of these Amazon Prime "movies we think you'll like" would you actually click on?
Obviously In the Arms of My Enemy (2007), originally titled Voleurs de chevaux (Horse Thieves). It has a barely literate synopsis about two sets of brothers in 19th century Russia who become Cossacks.
The trailer shows a guy kissing a girl, but IMDB teases us with these photos.
I'd swear the guys on the left are boyfriends, but anyway the beefcake is a sufficient draw. I'm in.
Wow, the English subtitles are awful. Planned yes to switch to French or Spanish, but they are so hilarious. I give it with you some examples later in.
The brothers are:
1.-2. Protective big brother Jakub (Adrien Jolivet) and weak, fragile little brother Vladimir (Gregoire Leprince Ringuet), who join the Cossacks, and endure rigorous training with their shirts off. Vladimir is bullied, beaten, and raped. "Get to calm. Must get stronger, otherwise you will not save you."
After their initiation, they go to a tavern to dance and drink with their shirts off. An older officer flirts with Vladimir, so Vladimir beats him up. So they decide to go AWOL and frolick in a river. "Do you remember when we were small? I was so hours."
3.-4. Over-protective, possibly abusive Roman (Gregoire Colin, left) and young teen-dream Elias (Francois Rene-Dupont), thieves who live in the woods and don't wear shirts. While Jakub and Vladimir are frolicking in the river, they steal their horses. Vladimir chases after them, and Roman strangles him to death. Jakub vows to get revenge.
The horse thieves go to an inn to drink and flirt with girls. One of them invites Elias to have sex (she gets completely nude, while we see a little of his chest).
Afterwards, the girl wants him to stick around, but Elias tells her: "My brother cares a lot. He will come in my search and be mad."
On another night, the girl looks on jealously while Elias gets hugged and face-caressed by his male friends. He sings; they say "I like a lot? Huh, guys, like! Very!" Maybe Elias is bi?
The stalking Jakub sees Elias, but doesn't know that he is one of the horse thieves. He tells the other boys "Disappear! I want!", and starts flirting. Then the other horse thief, Roman, the one who actually killed Vladimir, comes in. Jakub recognizes him!
After talking it over with the Girl, who asks why he is so interested in Elias ("No idea. What you talk?"), Jakub decides to kill Roman, but spare the teen dream. He stalks them while they are frolicking in the lake ("How to sniff, Roman!"), but Roman attacks first ("You acknowledge I should have killed there in river!"). Elias yells at him to leave Jakub alone ("Stop, are you going to kill you! No kill!"). Is he just opposed to murder, or does he like Jakub?
Jakub comes into their bedroom while they are sleeping and brandishes a sword, but Elias covers Roman with his body, so of course Jakub can't attack.
He waits until Elias is not around, and attacks and kills Roman. There's a long dying scene.
Later, Elias sneaks into Jakub's camp while he's asleep, and stares at him for a long time. We think he's planning revenge, but no... in the next scene, Jakub and Elias ride off into the sunset together! Wait -- the guy just killed your brother. Even if he was abusive, isn't that a bit of an unlikely turnaround?
Beefcake: None of the boys own shirts.
Heterosexism: One sex scene.
Gay Characters: The two sets of brothers both have gay-subtext hugging, holding, frolicking, and cuddling in bed scenes. When Jakub hooks up with Elias, you can read them as a gay couple, but another reading has Jakub seeing Elias as a weak, fragile younger brother, another Vladimir to protect. The English title pushes the gay reading into the spotlight.
My Grade: In a Belgian movie from 2007, the gay romance element should have been played up a bit more, turned into text instead of subtext and a teasing title. B.