VQFF Day 2: Beyond the Walls

20 08 2013

Synopsis: the relationship between a couple living in France — a young white guy and an Albanian — is tested when one of them is sent to prison.

Super awesome things: like many European films, Beyond the Walls is slow in the exploration of its characters and the plot. There are short, lovely moments and scenes, like when the two characters lay at the other’s feet and play with toes while talking. You get a sense that writer and director David Lambert knows what he wants this movie to be– from the details in Ilir’s dingy hole of a home to the subtle twitches and expressions when they see each other in jail, there’s such a sense of naturalism between all the players that the film unfolds itself rather than dictated by a formulaic script as frequently seen in Hollywood films. That’s the beauty of Beyond the Walls, that we as the audience are able to glimpse at such a personal, intimate, and heartbreaking relationship between these two characters, that we see beyond the walls that they’ve both put up. Also, Guillaume Gouix is absolutely fantastic in this, and not just because I think he also happens to be absolutely beautiful.

Not so awesome things: for a good two-thirds of the movie, I was annoyed at one of the two main characters (Paolo, the skinny white boy). That’s not to say that all films need to have sympathetic characters, not at all, but when one is so grating, annoying, and immature, especially compared to Ilir, who is rugged, mature, and level-headed (most of the time), it makes for an unpleasant experience. That said, I was happy to see that Paolo does have an arc, but even then, I didn’t completely buy it. Could he really change that much in such a short period of time? It’s possible, especially with an older gentleman to guide (and pay) for him. When he walked out with a fancy trench coat and hipster scarf, the audience laughed. I’m not sure they bought it either.

Perhaps the most concerning thing about Beyond the Walls is what it has to say about queer relationships and gay men. The most obvious thing it says is that queer relationships are difficult. They’re not always fairytale stories, like in many North American rom-coms (and gay-themed rom-coms for that matter). That’s fair. There are other issues that the film doesn’t seem to want to contend with that unfortunately break the nice atmospheric naturalism. Paolo doesn’t want to come out to his girlfriend. Okay. Lots of gay men don’t want to. Everyone has their reasons. Paolo doesn’t seem to though. His girlfriend — who I might add is unfortunately relegated to evil-bitch-girlfriend status and stuck there for the whole film — even tells him she wants to know who Paolo has been seeing, but he refuses to tell her. There’s no reason given for him denying his sexuality, especially when he doesn’t seem to regret ever staying at Ilir’s for the night or leering at him at the bar.

Good for watching: as a double feature with Keep the Lights On.

Overall: Everyone struggles, and sometimes you can only watch behind a wall at what you used to have.

Grade: B+



3 responses

20 08 2013

beyond the walls 2: the american military uses automatic weapons and the villain also has guns but the CIA save the day with more guns and shooting. The US president orders bombing but more machine guns and CIA intervene and someone fires a winning round and mrs fluffet lives happily ever after

Just Kidding, I thought I’d be ridiculous and random hehe.

20 08 2013

Written and directed by Curtis May.

26 08 2013

inspired by Mrs. Fluffet

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