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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Grande Ecole
Grande Ecole
Wellspring // NC-17 // November 9, 2004
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Daniel W. Kelly | posted December 16, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
Listen up all pansexuals, those who don't like labels, and those who believe sex is not about gender, but about the person. And be warned all gay men who don't want to be brainwashed into thinking sex with women is (gasp) ok. The French film Grand École is here—and not exactly queer.

The Story:
At an elite French business school, the students are rich and snobby—and quite attractive. Friends Paul (Gregori Baquet) and Bernard (Arthur Jugnot) meet their new roommate, Louis-Arnault (Jocelyn Quivrin). Despite Paul and Louis both having girlfriends, the two young men become non-sexual intimate friends. But Paul feels a stirring, and wants much more from Louis, who constantly invites him into the locker room after swim meats--I mean, swim meets—where there's plenty of glorious full frontal uncut male nudity going on.

Meanwhile, Horny-for-men Paul seems to have no problem constantly getting it up for his girlfriend. But that doesn't squelch his desire for men. He becomes attracted to a dark and handsome lower class Arab painter on campus named Mécir (Salim Kechiouche), and this is how he gets his first taste of a man. But he's just using Mécir. He's madly in love with Louis, who seems oblivious to that fact. But not Paul's girlfriend, who makes a bet with Paul that she can bed Louis first. If she wins, she gets Paul all to herself and he must give up on men. If Paul wins, she lets him have Louis for good.

The best part of this movie is the hot men, the hot shower scenes involving some incredibly well-hung men, and some spectacular camera work, directing and editing.

The bad part is the rest of it. This movie attempts to be highbrow intellectual and deep about sexuality, class, and gender. There are no redeeming characters in this movie. Just when you think you feel sorry for a character and hope they find themselves, he or she becomes grossly self-centered. And none of them is interested in being labeled gay or straight, or even bisexual for that matter. Problem with that is, no one wants to frickin' commit! In the end, I have absolutely no idea who's into what because no one makes a decision. Why CAN'T we just be labeled as gay or straight and get along? Heck, we haven't even been able to accept that there are those of us who are either one or the other of those. Society is not ready to accept that we're all into whomever comes a long and tickles our fancy. It's not real. A woman could try all she wants to tickle my fancy, and all that tickling would ever do would be to make me laugh. I just wouldn't feel it. And I didn't feel this movie. I don't want to see my hot naked men getting it on with women when we cut to the next scene. Do yourself a favor. Go rent a gay porn. No women in sight—and you get the money shot to boot.

The DVD

Video:
This is a truly stunning visual presentation. The movie is anamorphic 1:85:1. The color is rich and vivid. Flesh tones are slightly on the yellow side, but not so bad. The darks are dense and tight, and there's excellent light/dark contrast. The print is nearly flawless with few signs of dust. And the image is sharp and cinematic.

Sound:
You have an option of French 5.1 or French 2.0. The 5.1 surround is modest, but makes use of all speakers during outdoor scenes. Indoor scenes tend to be both dialogue heavy and center speaker heavy. Subwoofer is not really utilized at all.

Extras:
There are 16 chapter breaks, and English subtitles are optional. Other extras include:

THEATRICAL TRAILER—letterbox, subtitles.

MAKING OF—this featurette is over 50 minutes long. Includes interviews with the director and stars, and behind-the-scenes clips, discussions about the costumes and hair—and of course, the male actors proclaiming their heterosexuality (guess they missed the message the movie was trying to send out). Also includes the photo shoot for the nude poster art.

DELETED SCENES—the director introduces each scene (14 minutes of them). There are some boring, unnecessary clips, and alternate takes of clips that were in the film, which is mostly the same exact scene accompanied by a literary character reading overdubbed for an artsy effect, which was eventually left on the cutting room floor.

FILM FESTIVAL REACTION—more like home video of the cast and crew on tour promoting the film. 17 minutes long.

DVD OFFER—URL for the studio, along with a code to use to get 10% off. Sorry, I'm not telling what the code is. You'll have to buy the disc.

Final Thoughts:
Grand École is a visually pretty art piece about the complexities of sexual orientation, and answers the question: how lonely would we all be if we couldn't decide once and for all if we were into men or women? For a GOOD time flick about sexuality confusion, get your hand on a copy of Threesome.

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