The Man of My Life Movie Review
That's where The Man of My Life starts out: with a big and boisterous extended family on one of those long vacations Europeans enjoy. The father/husband Frédéric (Bernard Campan) and his wife Frédérique (Léa Drucker) are in charge of the happy brood but find enough time to sneak off for sessions d'amour in the afternoon.
What could upset this picture-perfect scenario? Maybe the gay neighbor. Wealthy artist Hugo (Charles Berling) is ensconced in the chateau next door, and the couple invites him over for a big dinner that ends up lasting all night as he and Frédéric drunkenly shoot the breeze about life. What is it about Hugo? Frédéric finds him compelling, and soon the two are jogging partners.
Glimpses into Hugo's life depict him as a pleasure seeker, always eager to bring a new boy home from the gay bar nearby. (Who knew Provence was so outré?) As he explains to Frédéric, his father tossed him out of the house when he announced he was gay, so he has no particular interest in family ties and love, a position that Frédéric finds unimaginable until, that is, his mancrush on Hugo evolves into a bromance and then threatens to become something more.
At the same time, Frédérique's marital and sexual insecurities blossom. Picking up on the unsettling Hugo vibe, she has a minor nervous breakdown, throwing herself naked at her husband and begging for contact. It's not helpful. And all around the edges of the film, touches of weirdness begin to show up. What's that strange cabin inhabited at night by a string quartet? Is the family's old friend a sexual predator? Why is the couple's son having bad dreams? And how will Hugo's grown daughter figure into all this when she shows up unexpectedly?
The Man of My Life is as much about atmosphere and style as it is about characters. In one beautifully shot scene, a gorgeous and newly married young couple dances an erotic tango at their wedding reception as Hugo and Frédéric look on, with Hugo reacting cynically and Frédéric reacting romantically. Ultimately, there aren't any pointed conclusions about the meaning of life here other than the rather obvious one that under the still waters of an idyllic Provencal river, the currents run deep. What's on the surface never accurately mirrors what's going on down below. But you already knew that, c'est vrai?
Aka L'Homme de sa vie.
He's a man's man.