Friday, August 24, 2007

L'Age d'Homme

Au revoir, les enfants … hello to les hommes. Raphael Fejto, aka Jean Bonnet of “Au Revoir, Les Enfants” fame, has grown up into quite the director. The John Galliano look-a-like’s sophomore feature film, “L’Age d’Homme…Maintenant ou Jamais” (“The Age of Man…Now or Never”) is an entertaining, provocative romp through the male passage to the age of adulthood, namely 30 years old. The plot is ostensibly identical to pretty much all other French movies ever made – a French guy cheats on his girlfriend and mayhem ensues. In this version, however, the guy is the magnificently talented ubiquitous thesp Romain Duris, the girlfriend is the also magnificently talented ubiquitous thesp Aissa Maiga and the mayhem that ensues is actually quite funny. I even laughed out loud periodically. Duris is perfect as 30-year-old Samuel, a writer/director living with his photographer girlfriend of one year, Tina (Maiga). Samuel adores Tina but wonders if there’s something – or someone – better out there for him. He’s aided on his quest for the truth by Leonardo Da Vinci (also played by a bearded, beatboxing Duris), a caveman (Duris) and, because no quest for the truth would be complete without him, Jesus Christ (again, Duris). Not to mention his friends. Jorge (Clement Sibony), Mounir (Rachid Djaidani) and Vittorio (Tarubi) who form a smart entourage of eclectic characters. Not to mention the fact that, as Sibony spends almost an entire scene buttoning up his shirt in the bathroom while he talks to Duris, I was desperately wanting to UNbutton said chemise. What a stud. With a soundtrack featuring Mika, Amy Winehouse and LCD Soundsystem, pretty much 1h28 of Romain Duris shirtless and beautiful views of Paris, the film is definitely worth seeing “now” rather than “never.”
While the movie explores male coming-of-age, I definitely related. A guy turning 30 is a lot like a girl turning 25. (yes, it’s been scientifically proven that we do mature more quickly, gentlemen) In France, if you’re female, 25 and “célibataire”, you may as well have the plague.
Célibataire: adj. literal meaning: single; actual cultural meaning: what’s wrong with you?
Being single in this country is a fate considered to be worse than death. Thus, if a girl turns 25 and isn’t married, she has to go and pray to Saint Catherine.
Here’s the scoop on Cathy (thank you random website
“St. Catherine was a brilliant young woman of noble birth who went before the Emperor Maximinus to correct him for worshipping false gods and to upbraid him for his persecution of Christians. He sent some of his greatest scholars and philosophers to debate her -- but she ended up converting many of them, and they were put to death and Catherine was beaten and jailed. […] she was condemned to die on the wheel, but when she touched it, it shattered. She was then beheaded. Legend says that the angels carried her body to Mt. Sinai. She is the patron of unmarried women, students, philosophers, craftsmen who use wheels (e.g., potters), lacemakers, and milliners.”

Thus, on St Catherine’s day, unmarried women over 25 all over France (I think there may be about 3 of us) called “Catherinettes” go to pray to St Catherine and ask her to find a husband for them. On September 6th, I will be turning the big 2-5 and will thus be forced to put my love life into the hands of poor, beheaded Cathy. Oh and I forgot to add that the Catherinettes are supposed to wear a hat all day long, and “they are usually feted with a meal among friends.” Does it say “The Ritz” anywhere in that Bible passage does anyone know? I think I saw that somewhere… Because of this hat-wearing custom, French milliners have big parades to show off their wares on this day.
Apparently, this is what I am supposed to say:
“St Catherine, St Catherine, O lend me thine aid
And grant that I never may die an old maid.”
As if turning 25 isn’t scary enough, there go those French to remind me that I may indeed die an old maid with 300 cats in a dusty old attic resembling the remains of Miss Havisham in Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” (okay so maybe they don’t go THAT far but hello “old maid”?? sacré bleu.) Oh and if you thought that was enough, it continues…”A husband, St. Catherine. A handsome one, St. Catherine. A rich one, St. Catherine. A nice one, St. Catherine. And soon, St. Catherine.” HA. They took the words right out of my mouth. I’m going to adapt my version to add: “A French one, St. Catherine. A Jewish one, St. Catherine. A Tall one, St. Catherine. A funny one, St. Catherine.” Or how specific are we allowed to be? How about: “One named Guillaume Canet, St. Catherine. Or George Clooney, St. Catherine.” I feel that Catherine and I would really relate. I mean, I don’t worship false gods or plan to be beheaded anytime soon, but her body was carried by angels to Mt. Sinai, I was born at Mt. Sinai hospital. She was a brilliant young woman of noble birth. So was I. (well perhaps no noble birth although I’d say Beryl and Steven Leffler are pretty noble people, wouldn’t you?) And when she touched the wheel, it shattered. I’ve broken so many glasses simply by touching them, I swear. I think we’d be BFF. Maybe she’s on myspace?