Son Frere (15)

Directed by Patrice Chereau
Shown at FACT

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

The film Son Frere (His Brother) was billed as being an unforgettable and intensely rewarding experience, but this was definitely not the case from my viewpoint.
It is a very sombre film set in Paris and Brittany, centering around a young man who is dying of leukaemia and his struggle to accept his fate, and his disillusionment with the attempts of the hospital to somehow relieve his suffering.

Derek Jarman covered the disintegration of a body, as he was dying of Aids (and all the attendant health problems that occurred) much more effectively, evoking a far more sympathetic response of the viewer or listener to his plight, in the film and CD Blue, than is the case with the character of Thomas (Bruno Todeschini) n Son Frere.

The hospital takes over your body and you gradually lose control of it.....

The boredom level of the film reaches its nadir when it spends five minutes lingering over Thomas having his body hair shaved off prior to going into the operating theatre.

There are other low points. The acting often lacks conviction, the dialogue is stilted, the plot predictable, and music - which can often help enrich a film - was almost non-existent - the only piece of music is a song performed by Marianne Faithfull.

Most of the film takes place almost entirely inside a hospital ward wherein Thomas contemplates his forthcoming demise, often in conversation with his brother Luc (Eric Caravaca), who has little warmth or love for him, making one feel that you were watching an episode of Casualty.

It is refreshing to some extent when the film then switches from this oppressive environment to the Brittany coast, where Thomas and Luc revisit their childhood home, and reflect on their lives spent there, while gazing out to sea.

In keeping with the predictable nature of the film, in a clichéd closing scene, Thomas discards his clothes and walks into the sea to drown himself.

The cinema industry in France receives a lot of financial backing from the EU, but if Son Frere were recipients of some of this funding, it was clearly a waste of money.

The question has to be asked - what was the point in making this film?