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Adventures of Felix, The
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by Thom

"Sexy and thought provoking"
4 stars

The film addresses racism, AIDS and xenophobia. Felix is an Arab, who are often the victim of racism in France. And he's gay and HIV positive. In French society, a flatworm is slightly more human, somewhere just above "woman". But he has a happy life, a loving boyfriend and now he must complete one more chapter in his life.

The Chunnel is slowly displacing the Ferry service that traditionally carried people between France and England. It is also displacing the people who worked for the ferry and in France's tight economy, any unemployment is most likely going to be a long term affair. Felix (Sami Bouajila) loses his job and in typical French fashion, finishes up some personal business, counts his change and heads out for life, not wasting any time looking for a non-existent job. His mother has just died and Felix now has the time to sell her apartment in Paris (why he wouldn't want to just move to Paris is a loss to me) and while cleaning out her things he finds one letter from a father he never knew. With the address in hand, he kisses his boyfriend, a school teacher, goodbye and heads out on foot. He buys a train ticket for Daniel (Pierre-Loup Rajot) and tells him to meet him in Marseille).

Along the way he meets people who represent his little brother, his cousin, his sister, his grandmother and his father. These segments break up the film into chapters of discovery for the audience as well as Felix.

His journey begins with his witnessing a murder. The street thugs chase him into a bar where the bar owner, who recognizes them, sends them away. Felix goes to police, but because he's an Arab and gay, he is afraid that nobody will listen to him and he leaves in a Panic. This establishing incident comes back to keep the story from taking too many tangents. He first meets an attractive young art student, Jules (Charly Sergue) , called "little brother", who takes a liking to Felix but Felix resists his advances. Together they steal a car and end up in the fog of lust that remains unsatisfied at the insistence of Felix. Felix introduces Jules to his gay self and takes him to a nightclub where his hormones kick into overdrive.

Felix then meets his cousin, a hunky, railroad worker (Phillippe Garziano) and they don't waste much time finding a place to fuck. When they emerge from the bushes, the railroad worker throws the condom into the bush and Felix picks it up and reprimands him for littering.

We see Felix's paternal side when he meets his sister, his wounded and vulnerable side when he meets his grandmother and we see his resolute and wizened side at the end of his long trip when he meets "his father" and rejoins Daniel for a happy holiday in the south of France.

The film is more dialogue driven than situation and sitting through it is nice for all its gems about life and living, not so much about being gay or dealing with HIV. Felix is a little old to be out hitchhiking and carrying on like a carefree backpacker but it works because his life needs a new perspective. All his experience and maturity come into play and this road trip brings his life through those invisible gates we pass through when you know that was is no longer. And since we are witnesses to the drama, we encounter these gates for ourselves. I never get tired of stepping through an interesting story with lots of character development.

And his cousin is really hot. First, you think he's straight and then he starts putting the moves on Felix. This was way more satisfying than when he entertained the young lust of Jules. It's not the most remarkable part of the film but its the part that puts this movie in the completely unambiguous "made for gay men" category. So a foreign film about a gay man ... its lucky to be on one screen, but its well worth it for those that show up. It's also just so French. Americans have a completely different perspective on personal space and what is private and what is public.

It seems like the French are all kissing cousins and everyone's private life is public knowledge so there aren't neat boundaries or lengthy "getting to know you" periods. I was often surprised at how easily guards were dropped and strangers became intimate almost immediately. Unlike the English who are totally guarded with a thick layer of social etiquette to hide the messiness of life, the French are a little more realistic. The Adventures of Felix embodies this national characteristic as well as the more universal aspects of gay culture. It's a good "date" movie but if you tend to be introspective, its probably better to see this movie alone. You may feel a little exposed afterwards.

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originally posted: 06/15/01 07:16:06
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User Comments

1/20/05 tatum Disappointing, meandering bore 2 stars
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  15-Jun-2001 (NR)
  DVD: 19-Feb-2002



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