Last night I watched a 2000 queer film on Netflix called Presque rien (the North American title is Come Undone). It’s a French-Belgian romantic drama about 18-year-old Mathieu who over the course of his summer holiday falls in love with Cedric, a working-class boy his own age.
I had never heard of this film before, and I was immediately taken with its narrative. Unlike most Hollywood films it doesn’t try to explain every minute detail for the audience. Instead it allows questions to go unanswered, conflicts unresolved. Kind of like real life!
Mathieu is taking a summer holiday in remote region of France with his grief-stricken mother, angst-ridden teenage sister and a slightly older family friend when he meets Cedric on the beach one afternoon. The two quickly fall in love and become boyfriends.
The film weaves in-between their torrid love-affair and the events 18 months later when they break-up. We never know why their relationship ends, but it’s clear that it was devastating enough for Mathieu to attempt suicide.
Rather than a chronologically ordered narrative, the movie switches between the summer (love-affair) and the winter (break-up) plotlines, depicting the differences in Mathieu’s life in both periods.
If you’re gay, I can’t recommend this movie enough, it personally struck a chord with me. Selfishly I began to think a lot about my own life, the idea of loneliness and how it can affect a person’s choices.
Like Mattieu I never really CAME OUT, I discovered myself, and then stopped lying about who I was. When I was 21-years-old I entered into a long-term relationship and upon reflection I can’t believe how committed I was to my boyfriend, how deeply in love I was, so much that I was completely, helpelessly devoted to him.
Unlike most gay guys in their twenties I never experienced that “slutty” phase. I can count on one had the number of sexual partners I’ve had in my life. In retrospect I can safely say that promiscuity was never anything that interested me. I was in love, happy to nest, even if it was at an age when most people were with a different man each weekend. Somehow their lives never influenced me. I was just really happy to have found such a loving person. My life was extremely comfortable.
In my teens I never had that one great love affair, though I did date, I found most of the boys immature, they didn’t know how to be men. And that’s what I preferred — a man.
I’ve never lived alone in my life. Which when I think about it, says a lot about me doesn’t it? I’ve always been with someone, whether it be a lover or a friend. When I say that out loud, I can’t believe that I have never lived alone — okay, briefly at times. But I didn’t like it.
For a year I lived in Argentina, probably the loneliest time of my life. Every morning, afternoon, evening and almost every weekend I was alone. Of course I tried to keep my days busy with work, walks and sight-seeing, but the majority of my time in Buenos Aires was spent by myself. Yes I was lonely at times. For a while I even forgot how to express my opinions because I had been such a recluse. The deafening sound of silence influenced my habits, even altered my personality.
But Argentina was also a wonderful time to reflect on the life that I had lived and was currently living. I thought about my relationships, both platonic and romantic, how they had served me well, and sometimes not so well and then made a plan on how I would go forward.
For me, getting away from my life in Canada saved me. I recommend it for everyone. We should all be able at some point, to remove ourselves from the routine of our lives and allow for self-analysis. We have to ask ourselves questions like, “Is this the life I really want?”
As I watched Mattieu struggle with his future last night I envied him. At least he was getting this all out of his system at 20. Sure he had gone through a terrible break-up, had no money, nowhere to live, was struggling in school, but hopefully all the hardship paved a path to self-discovery.
I didn’t start going through this crisis until I was in my early thirties, not the most ideal time. I fully appreciate that these moments hit each of us a different stages in our lives, but I felt, for a brief moment, that perhaps my twenties would have been best served if I had been single. Relationships bind us, they are burdened with sacrifices and compromises, ones you never thought you would have to make when you were younger — your life becomes the other person, through and through.
And for a while, if I’m honest with you, I resented that. But then there’s the positive side to all of this. If I was able to would I erase my past and start over? The answer to this is a resounding NO. At 21 I found myself in a love-affair of a different kind. Sure it wasn’t as passionate as the one I wished for, but it was responsible. That sounds funny and so unromantic doesn’t it? Well, I learned a lot about myself in those years through the help of my partner. And we shared so many lovely moments, travelled the world together and loved deeply — sometimes too deeply. There were times that I felt that I was suffocating.
Suffocating from too much love is probably the best way to die.