Garçon stupide (2004)
★★ / ★★★★
Loïc (Pierre Chatagny) spent most of his time on the internet chatting with other gay men, meeting up, and messing around. He lived with Marie (Natacha Koutchoumov), his best friend, who held a part-time job at a museum while attending school. Somehow, aimless Loïc was able to get along with driven Marie. But when Loïc met a guy named Lionel, he began to ask questions about his lifestyle and made changes, good and bad, in his life. “Garçon stupide,” written by Lionel Baier and Laurent Guido, had something to say about being a young gay man with good looks but without much ambition. The protagonist was a very self-conscious person which made me curious about how he would react to challenges, even simple ones, that felt out of his control. This characteristic was highlighted when Marie would joke around with him about not knowing much. For example, when Loïc announced that he wanted to be a photographer, Marie couldn’t find it in herself to take her friend seriously. We weren’t meant to hate her or feel like she was being insensitive. She had a good reason to doubt that maybe Loïc wasn’t being serious. After all, their conversations were mostly about his random (and dangerous) sexual encounters. I noticed that he failed to ask questions about how she was doing, her job, or her schoolwork as a good friend would do. Marie and Loïc were friends but their friendship wasn’t very deep. Not from Loïc’s perspective. When Marie began to see another guy, Loïc felt jealous and concerned that Marie, a friend and a mother figure, was going to be taken from him. His only friendship being challenged was one of the two elements that inspired him to change. The other was Lionel, an older man who enjoyed having interesting conversations instead of engaging in casual sex. Like his friendship with Marie, Loïc’s friendship with Lionel wasn’t very deep, but it was as important because both of them, in their own ways, allowed the protagonist to take a hard look at his self-worth. Casual sex didn’t bring him happiness. The parallelism in the relationships were established in an organic manner. But once created, it felt like it didn’t amount to much. If that was the point, however, then what made this particular story necessary to tell? I also liked the way Lionel Baier, the director, used machines as a metaphor for physical contact yet lacking emotional attachment. On screen, two images were side-by-side: one frame featured a machine while the other frame featured men having sex. Unfortunately, the film became depressingly symbolic when Loïc began to obsess over a popular soccer player (Rui Pedro Alves). It felt like watching a completely different movie because the obsession made the protagonist seem mentally unstable. In the first half, yes, he was deeply flawed but he wasn’t creepy or villainous. I felt as though the picture eventually crossed the line. “Garçon stupide” was at its best when it explored the main character yearning for some emotional connection but didn’t quite know how to express it. It didn’t need heavy symbolism to convey its messages.