Title – ‘Wild Reeds‘
Director – André Téchiné
Starring – Élodie Bouchez, Gaël Morel, Stéphane Rideau, Frédéric Gorny
Release Date – 1994
Ah the French… While we’re partying it up and watching TV they’re contemplating life and reading philosophy – or at least that’s what they want us to think! Either way the French make some great movies especially dealing with teenage angst which is the subject of today’s dispatch! Enter the world of André Téchiné’s ‘Wild Reeds‘ (Les Roseaux Sauvages). It was hailed as an instant classic when it came out in France in ’94 and even beat out ‘Queen Margot’ (by Patrice Chéreau [‘L’homme Blesse‘]) for the César award (the equivalent of our Oscar). We’re showcasing a new HD Restoration that will blow your socks off!
‘Wild Reeds‘ tells the story of four teenagers making the transition from childhood in the era of the late days of the Algerian War which took place from 1954-1962. The movie focuses the most on Francois who’s discovering his budding attraction to men. Conveniently he becomes friends with the sexy Serge who is open to ‘experimenting’ with Francois, but nothing more beyond that. Of course that frustrates Francois who feels a real attraction to Serge to which he confides in his best friend Maite, the daughter of their teacher with communist leanings (Madame Alvarez). The film starts with a joyous wedding with Serge’s older brother confiding in Alvarez that he’s heard communists might be able to smuggle him out of the war. When she refuses to help he’s forced to head back to the war where he tragically dies. This sets in motion a series of events that bring the 3 adolescents together to figure out the next steps their life will take.
Senses of Cinema had this to say about the title of the film:
The title Wild Reeds (Les roseaux sauvages) echoes a poetic fable by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695): “The Oak and the Reed”. Boasting of his strength, the proud oak tree offers to shelter the frail reed. But the reed rejects the oak and, when a storm blows, the reed bends with the wind and survives, while the oak is torn up by its roots. In concert with this, all of Wild Reeds’ adolescent characters need to learn to bend from their initial, inflexible positions and accept the ambiguities inherent in adulthood.
There are so many reasons to watch this film!! Besides the fact that you’ll get to witness the birth of the modern French coming-of-age film there’s a wealth of talent involved in this film that went on to make lots more amazing movies (a bunch of which you’ve probably seen!).
André Téchiné – The director of countless amazing French films. He’s directed some of the best queer films of all time including ‘Being 17’ and ‘The Witnesses’.
Gaël Morel – The lead of ‘Wild Reeds‘ attained much critical acclaim for his portrayal of Francois, but his passion rested in being behind the camera and just two years later directed the popular film ‘Full Speed’ in which he cast his co-star from ‘Wild Reeds’ Stéphane Rideau! He also directed the steamy gay thriller ‘Our Paradise’.
Stéphane Rideau – Stéphane went on to become a prolific actor in his own right starring in the subversive comedy ‘Sitcom’ by Francois Ozon and the popular gay romance movie ‘Come Undone’ by Sebastian Lifshitz.
Jacques Nolot – A very famous French actor, he later went on to write and direct the classic queer films ‘Porn Theatre’ and ‘Before I Forget’.
Watch it with: With your French film-loving friends.
Mix it with: A French red wine of course!