Against the background of a hot French summer and the even more distant backdrop of the war in Algeria, a young French boy’s gay nature blossoms.
At school François is approaching the start of a long hot summer and reaching the end of his school career. He is a retiring boy who dislikes youth in general and his contemporaries in particular. He would rather settle down with a book. His only contact with the outside world is the young Maïté, who enjoys her still innocent life to the full, unlike François. The two are like brother and sister, ‘wild roses’, and are characterized by the innocence that marks many others in Téchiné’s films – the film had almost could have been called ‘Les Innocents’. François shares his room with the sturdy Serge, who is proud of his peasant origins. François is fascinated by him, but cannot place his fascination. One day Henri comes to school and his arrival disrupts the everyday peace. Henri brings with him the ‘scandal’, awakens passions and causes lots of disorder. He is a son of a French family that has emigrated from Africa and since the independence of Algeria, he regards the French as a bunch of cowards, especially the communists. Henri believes that Algerian independence is treachery and everyone who defends that process is easy prey for him. Where others only hear a vague rumour, he alone feels the internal conflict in history. As the film progresses, tension rises between François, Serge and Henri. –IFFR
A critic with the Cahiers du Cinéma in the 60s, he made his directing debut with Paulina s’en va, his first feature, shown at the Fortnight in 1969. He returned to the Fortnight in 1975 with Souvenirs d’en France. Reputed for his work with actors, he has directed the likes of Isabelle Adjani, Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau, Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert, Gérard Depardieu, Michel Blanc, Daniel Auteuil… He won several awards at Venice and Cannes and received three Césars in 1995 for Les roseaux sauvages. –Quinzaine des Réalisateurs
It is indeed very sweet. The story is pretty straightforward, but we soon care for the main characters. At first I felt the ending was too inconclusive, but after thinking about it it makes sense. These kids are lost in many ways, and there IS NO conclusion. Life moves forward. I suppose it works better than a traditional happy ending, whose impact would nothing but ephemeral. That said, the editing could be cleaner.
Les Roseaux sauvages snuck up on me. This is a beautifully-shot portrait of young people at the dawn of their sexuality while their world is complicated by politics. Bouchez and Morel play two of the most likable and innocent characters I've seen in a while. The final scenes are simply a dream. ★★★★