The Best Way to Walk

This is film that only Claude Miller could have made--full of subtlety and ambiguity.

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse
Genres: Actors: Christine Pascal, Claude Piéplu, Michel Blanc, Michel Such, Patrick Bouchitey, Patrick Dewaere Featured Directors: Languages:
The Best Way to Walk

This film will annoy those expecting the promised “unflinching portrait of an unlikely alliance,” to result in a modern coming-out story. I was more immediately confused by the ending than annoyed, as it left me not really sure what the “message” of the film was, but it percolated in my subconscious for days after viewing. It made me think…and think and think…and the longer I thought the more I appreciated the film. Miller’s “message” is rarely obvious, but that is what I like about him. He makes character-driven movies, and the characters of Phillipe, Marc, and Phillipe’s girlfriend Chantal are all wonderfully written and exquisitely acted.

The dynamics of Marc’s bullying of Phillipe as a response to the internalized homophobia that Phillipe triggers in him is really spot-on. Phillipe, though harboring a great deal of tension and self-loathing of his own, which surfaces in a strangely violent and cathartic scene at the party towards the end of the movie, actually emerges as strengthened in the end. The ending, though as ambiguous as all get-out, seemed to portray two men who have come to accept themselves…all animosity and discomfort between them seems to have dissolved away. So what happens? Do Phillipe and Chantal enter a “marriage of convenience” and Phillipe and Marc become lovers? Maybe; seems possible; who knows; Miller doesn’t tell us. Like most all his films, it is the inner journey of the characters that seems to interest him most. He shies away from easy caricatures and political correctness and goes for multi-leveled, complex characterizations, leaving the audience to “fill-in-the-blanks.” I love it—but understand how some may find it unsatisfying.

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