Movie Magazine International

Full Speed

France - 1996

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

In his directorial debut, French filmmaker Gael Morel gives us 'Full Speed', an engaging effort that explores innocence lost between four young friends.

At the center is Quentin (played by Pascal Cervo), a gifted writer making waves with his first book which focuses on the ruffian lives of his streetwise friends. His girlfriend, Julie, (played by Elodie Bouchez) does not take to his new world of success even though her face graces the book's cover. Though Quentin's best friend, Jimmy, (played by Stephane Rideau) is admired for his boxing skills and hip-hop sensibilities, he behaves like a kid brother around the square and scraggly Quentin.

Then there is the lonely Samir, (played by Meziane Bardadi), who strikes up a friendship with Quentin at a party. After losing his great love, Rick, in a tragic accident, Samir finally opens his aching heart to Quentin, who then pressures Samir to let him use his sad story for his next novel. Samir falls hopelessly in love with Quentin, who leads him on, then cruelly rejects him in sudden fits of disgust.

When Quentin moves to Paris, the three friends deal with abandonment issues and the intricacies of compounded betrayal. When Julie and Jimmy become lovers, part of their passion is fueled by their mutual love for Quentin. On a shallow side note the site of these two actors making love in the mud, in the bed, on the dresser is deliciously erotic. This sort of raw, primitive mating business comes across much more naturally in French cinema than in Puritan-based American films. In short, Vive la France!

Though Quentin is beloved by all those around him, I can't figure out why. He's selfish, rude and exhibits empathy only when it suits him. Perhaps this explains his revered status; Quentin seems free in his life while the others are bound by insecurities and their reliance on human relationships.

It's positively heart-wrenching to see Samir plod through his life with such an emotional open wound. As he begins to heal with the help of Julie and Jimmy, he is attacked by homophobes. When Jimmy intervenes and suffers a head wound that is ultimately fatal, Samir is driven to murder. His quiet walk through the city immediately after the act is both chilling and serene; we sense a certain peace but with the understanding that Samir may have killed a part of himself as well.

'Full Speed', in French with English sub-titles is evenly-paced, despite its' harried name. Though for all the stunning photography of the French countryside, Morel has shown that love can indeed be hard on the eyes and tougher on the soul.

© 1998 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 3/25/98

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