Arrête avec tes Mensonges / Lie with Me (Movie Review) | A Touching Yet Familiar Story with Great Acting

I’m already off to a great start this year when it comes to watching more French movies, with Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom, and A La Belle Etoile. This film is based on the book by Philippe Besson that I’m dying to read, more now that I’ve seen this movie. Olivier Peyon is directing, it’s the first movie of his I’ve seen. Guillaume De Tonquédec is starring alongside Victor Belmondo, Julien De Saint-Jean, Jérémy Gillet, and Guilaine Londez.

Premise: Upon agreeing to be the brand ambassador for a famous cognac celebrating their bicentennial, novelist Stéphane Belcourt returns to his hometown for the first time in many years. Once there, he meets his first love’s son, Lucas. Memories come rushing back to him: irrepressible attraction, bodies becoming one in the heat of desire, a passion that can never be revealed… His first love’s name was Thomas. They were 17.

Review: As is the book, the story here is autobiographical and it is felt. The movie captures that quite well, there’s a rawness to it that makes it feel like you’re watching these events as they are unfolding whether they are in the present or the flashbacks. A movie that goes back and forth between the present and the past is nothing new, and someone reminiscing on their first love isn’t either, but this film does a good job of it in the way it’s structured. The flashbacks actually feel like memories, as bittersweet as they can be, and contrast well with Stephane now as he’s still hurt by them and yet cherish them.

The whole cast is great but there are standouts. Guillaume De Tonquédec is the only actor in the cast I knew by sight but I’ve seen him more in comedic roles – at least that’s the memory I have of him – but he nails it. His internal emotional turmoil reads perfectly as he comes back into town and meets Lucas. In the present scenes, it’s mostly him and Victor Belmondo – famous last name and familiar features but the first time I’ve heard or seen him in anything – they are good but not as poignant as the flashbacks. Julien De Saint-Jean and Jérémy Gillet are just amazing in this film, their scenes give life and weight to the scenes in the present. These flashbacks are intense, believable, and capture gay teenage love well.

Lie with Me / Arrête avec tes Mensonges is sweet considering what it’s about, even light at times but it works.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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