Les Roseaux sauvages

Director: Andre Techine


One of the very finest of Techine’s films, Les Roseaux sauvages is set in a school in the South-west of France during 1962. The Algerian war of independence is still raging, sending shock waves through an ostensibly quiet community and exerting a troubling influence on a very mixed group of adolescents who are also grappling with the more familiar confusions and doubts of that difficult transitional phase in life between childhood and adulthood.
François (Gaël Morel) is torn between his attraction to handsome buddy Serge (Stephane Rideau) and his friendship with Maite (Elodie Bouchez), the daughter of the school’s Communist teacher. Matters are complicated by the arrival of Henri (Frederic Gorny), an intelligent older kid who was born in Algeria and is bitterly opposed to independence. The baleful, fervently militant Henri acts as a catalyst, disrupting the routine of the school and forcing the other young characters to confront their deepest beliefs and passions. The film is autobiographical (François is the director’s alter-ego), humanist and lyrical. Yet it also possesses the toughness of Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien, and Techine is to be applauded for refusing to downplay either the complexities of politics or the cruelties inflicted on young lives.

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