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Abdellatif Kechiche is a maximalist: following his Palme d’Or-winning epic melodrama Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013) comes another three-hour love story infatuated with its central women. And this is only Canto Uno; adapted from François Bégaudeau’s 2011 novel La blessure, la vraie, a Part Two is set to follow.
Set during the summer of 1994 in the coastal town of Sète, southern France, it follows a group of absurdly attractive local youngsters during their summer holidays. There is Amin (Shaïn Boumédine), a shy, sexually ambiguous French-Tunisian medical student, his lothario cousin Tony (Salim Kechiouche), sensual farmhand Ophélie (Ophélie Bau, the film’s most arresting presence) and vacationing tourists Charlotte (Alexia Chardard) and Céline (Lou Luttiau).
The way Kechiche films the women’s bodies is transparently porny: low-angle shots linger for an uncomfortably long time on scantily clad bottoms and breasts. It feels leery rather than reverent, a pity given that the female characters are otherwise thoughtfully written and performed.
There are structural issues too. In Blue… the lengthy duration felt earned, cycling through acres of plot; here, the film’s world is hermetic, the characters’ routines repetitive to the point of banal. Still, Kechiche is quite brilliant at using stretches of time to create space for actors to let their characters breathe.
It’s a sleight of hand that makes the intimacy on screen seem as though it’s unfolding organically, deployed to particularly dexterous effect in one sequence that takes place in a bar. The camera plays dutiful observer, switching perspectives but always staying close to the bodies on screen, mapping the group’s subtly shifting sexual dynamics as its members dance, preen and glare at one another.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno review – leery summer romance | Abdellatif Kechiche