Le clan | 3 Dancing Slaves [2004]

10/10 | 11.Jun.12
Le clan | 3 Dancing Slaves

DIRECTOR: Gaël Morel  |  WRITERS: Christophe Honoré, Gaël Morel  |  CAST: Nicolas Cazalé, Stéphane Rideau, Thomas Dumerchez, Salim Kechiouche  |  France

For once I prefer a French film’s English title to the original: 3 Dancing Slaves is much more appealing, and accurate, than Le clan. Whatever it’s called, 3 Dancing Slaves was, for all I know, better-actor-than-director Gaël Morel’s only real chance to get some stunningly attractive young men to strip down and pose for his camera so he went for it. I can’t really think of much to say about the movie that isn’t in this paragraph by Jonathan Trout of the BBC:

Despite promising characters, Le Clan never really transcends beyond what it is – a loving, photographic study of beautiful, bored, alienated masculinity. If looking at naked, sweaty, muscular Frenchmen is your bag, then this film about three brother[s] has much to recommend it. The camera lingers so appreciatively over the frequently nude Nicolas Cazalé that it is easy to forget exactly what is going on. Sadly, this hardly matters.

I confess that at times I thought Morel was emulating Bresson (the scenes in the ham factory that the oldest brother works at, for instance, are highly reminiscent of scenes in L’argent, at least in their look and feel), but I think maybe that’s giving Morel too much credit. I’m at a loss on how to rate this film. I was enthralled and appalled and it made me laugh out loud at its absurdity. I was never bored, though, and that’s a plus. First off, the three brothers bear absolutely no resemblance to each other or to their father. Does it matter? No. They’re apparently of Algerian origin, or their late mother was, but only one of them (Cazalé) could really pass for an Arab and the three bear distinctly un-Arabic names (Christophe, Marc, Olivier). Are they meant to be pieds-noirs? There is an unambiguously Arab French-Algerian character with an Arabic name who’s friends with one brother and the lover of another…how does that fit in? DOES IT REALLY MATTER? No. All movies start out at 5/10 as far as I’m concerned and I add or subtract from there. So, to what I think this movie really deserves there’s +1 because it frequently made me laugh, +1 for Morel’s visual sense, and +5 for the sensationally alluring Nicolas Cazalé.

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