By Jeff Walsh
There exists a subset of movies that tries to make you think there is a good movie happening at a level that you don't understand. There is vague symbolism, knowing glances between characters, shifts in shooting style, all a clear tip-off to people who "get it." The subset keeps you quiet for fear of dismissing a movie that seems dull and contrived on its face, but where you risk being exposed as a cinema fraud if you say the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.
On the high-end, I've felt this way about critics' darlings like "Syriana" and "Half Nelson," and on the low end, part of me thought there certainly had to be more going on in "Garcon Stupide," a French movie by Lionel Baier. The movie centers on its young protagonist, Loic, who meets guys online and has sex with them. He doesn't want to know their stories; it isn't intimacy, just sex. He lives with a girl who lets him crash for free, and listens to his vague plans to better himself.
A lot of the character is told from the perspective of a guy he meets online and their chats. He will open to this guy about his life, but they can't have sex, because he keeps clear barriers between the two. It reminded me a party where I ended up in the bedroom, sitting on the bed with the hottest guy at the party, just the two of us in this empty room. He told me he was about to break up with the guy in the other room, who was obviously head over heels for him. He told me he cheated on him, too. Then he commented that it was easy to talk to me, and that he always likes to have people to talk to and people to have sex with, but they're never the same people. At which I joked and said, "Well, I don't know you too well yet, maybe we should rethink this..."
Loic drifts from his boring job at the chocolate factory, to hanging out with his roommate at her museum job, to going online in Internet cafes and finding sex for the night. He doesn't like chitchat; it's all very much just finding a guy, time, and place. Once he's there, he gets right down to business. Every time the movie gets a little bit meandering, the director seems to plant a nudity-heavy sex scene to pull you back into the fold.
The biggest issue is that there was no reason anything seemed to be happening. The character had no goal, nothing he was trying to pursue. The guy he talks with admires a photo he took on his camera phone, and that sends him off to become a photographer. He wants to shoot lions in the safari, but his roommate said he needs to shoot his real life, so he starts taking pictures of his tricks. Then he reads a newspaper article about a soccer player, and he starts stalking him. If it was supposed to pull me in and make me feel his lack of direction, it didn't.
Ultimately, any revelation or insight possibly gained in the movie was too little too late. The connective tissue between the tangential threads was the lead character and we never had too much info about anything related to his interest or why he pursues the things he does.
As a French movie, I was fully ready for the ending where one character starts laughing, then the person next to them starts laughing, until everyone starts laughing as the credits roll, as you think what the fuck just happened? This movie doesn't go that far, instead showing the character seeing someone who reminds him of himself and thinking he's not the only one who has gone through similar things and is trying to find themselves. Or something like that.