Avant que j’oublie | Before I Forget [2007]

7/10 | 17.Jun.12
Avant que j’oublie | Before I Forget

DIRECTOR: Jacques Nolot | WRITER: Jacques Nolot | CAST: Jacques Nolot, Jean-Pol Dubois, Marc Rioufol, Bastien d’Asnières | France

If there are serious movies about about the lives of gay prostitutes after their working days are over other than Avant que j’oublie, I’m not aware of them. Jacques Nolot wrote, directed, and stars in this film about a 60-ish former hustler who gave up hustling at 25 for one exclusive john, and although it’s clear that he has in no sense been kept by his john, it’s unclear how he has made his living the past 35 years. I take that back: he writes. From clues he’s a memoirist or author of semi-autobiographical fiction and he’s apparently been moderately successful. Pierre may have given up some of the wildness of his youth (he used to cruise public toilets, often with Roland Barthes he says at one point, who used to introduce him around as “a whore, in the semantic sense”), but he hasn’t given up smoking and drinking to excess or engaging the services of hustlers himself, and the years — and the years of hard living — show in his body if not his face: Pierre is still an attractive man. Clothed. There’s a sequence early in the movie where Pierre tosses and turns in bed and finally gets up and pads around his apartment naked. Nolot’s camera is unflinching: this is what a 60 year old man who’s let his body go to hell looks like naked, with his pot belly and every sag and wrinkle on display as in a Lucien Freud portrait. Nolot, in fact, never hesitates to show us what Pierre’s reality looks like and I found myself both embarrassed and fascinated by a fairly long scene of a sexual encounter between Pierre and the rough trade hustler he regularly engages. If I’ve got a problem with the movie it’s that the screenplay is insufficiently dramatized with far too much unnecessary exposition included in the dialogue. The character of Pierre at different stages in his life has apparently been explored in several films before, first by André Téchiné in La matiouette ou L’arrière pays” (1983) and J’embrasse pas (1991), and then by Nolot in L’arrière pays (1998), La chatte à deux têtes (2002), and now Avant que j’oublie. I want to see the earlier four films and wonder if there’s to be another.

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