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    Eager Bodies

    It's a three country

    The French drama "Eager Bodies" is a story about a love triangle, but it's more than that — it's about people's struggle to hold on to love in the face of illness and death.


    "Eager Bodies," the first feature from producer turned director Xavier ("demonlover") Giannoli, harks back to the humanistic misanthropy of Maurice Pialat ("Loulou"). Emotions well up as people get bored, drunk, laid, pregnant and cancer — just like real life, shit happens — and both directors serve up their slices of life whole, sans sentimentality.

    Original title: Les Corps Impatients.
    Written and directed by: Xavier Giannoli.
    Adapted from a novel by: Christian de Montella.
    Cast: Laura Smet, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Marie Denarnaud, Catherine Salviat, Maurice Antoni, Julien Bouvard.
    Cinematography: Xavier Giannoli, Yorick Le Saux.
    Edited by: Philippe Kotlarski.
    In French with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site
    New Directors New Films 2004
  • Overview
  • Checkpoint
  • Eager Bodies
  • In Your Hands
  • Le Monde Vivant
  • Silent Waters
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring
  • The Story of the Weeping Camel
  • Three Step Dancing
  • Vodka Lemon

  • Official festival site
  • Also making her debut is Laura Smet, the daughter of pop star turned actor John Hallyday ("Man on the Train") and actress turned director Nathalie Baye. Those are some mighty designer genes and they certainly show in Smet's natural performance as Charlotte, one-third of a youthful triangle comprising her tattooed law-student boyfriend Paul (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and her cousin Ninon (Marie Denarnaud).

    The basic plot is simplicity itself. Charlotte and Paul discover she has cancer and they struggle to stay close to each other and to Ninon. But there's nothing simple in the ways the disease and its ramifications tear at their once lighthearted relationship. This is no made-for-Lifetime "Disease of the Week" movie — there's nothing noble or enobling about this disease or its trio of victims.

    But the plot is merely the skeleton on which Giannoli fleshes out the intricacies of their interactions. All are attractive and attracted — in ways they can neither help nor easily explain. And one senses that Giannoli has no interest in explanations, but only in the truth of situations. Charlotte needs Paul and wants to know that he'll be there for her, even as she says she doesn't. ("Do you think I need you? Get lost! Fuck off!")

    And Paul and Ninon are attracted to each other despite their obvious affection for Charlotte. No one escapes. As Charlotte's illness progresses — with the attendant hair loss and vomiting from chemo and medication — she becomes the kind of pain-in-ass that the sick are prone to becoming. Her last-ditch attempt to hold Paul involves a thoroughly believable, but nonetheless untenable suggestion which all later regret acting upon.

    There are no easy answers in "Eager Bodies," but there are two extraordinary debuts by a director and an actress. Both are to reckoned with and both have long careers ahead of them. At the very least, "Eager Bodies" is a benchmark they should continually strive to match. At its best, the film is a series of snapshots of the human imperfections that we call life.

    APRIL 2, 2004

    Reader comments on Eager Bodies:

  • Believable   from Ol.Pl., Aug 8, 2004

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