Vivre Me Tue


Reviewed by: Claire Sawers

Who would have thought that body building contests and sado-masochist peep-shows would be the stuff of a moving human drama? And when was the last time you cried over a character addicted to steroids and Arnold Schwarzenegger films?

Despite its unlikely subject matter, this is genuinely touching stuff. Featuring stunning performances, these characters are as fascinating as they are tragic.

Paul and Daniel are brothers, born into a Morroccan family, living in Paris. Paul is the eldest and has always been the clever one, but, since writing his university thesis on Moby Dick, has been having trouble finding a job. Where Paul is strong, sensible and responsible, Daniel is vulnerable, deeply insecure and very naïve on the ways of the world.

Daniel has always felt lonely and worthless and is desperate to be good at something. He becomes obsessed with pumping iron at the gym and starts taking vitamin and steroid supplements to bulk himself up. His boyish good looks and newly inflated torso catches the eye of a peep-show boss who puts him in a glass cage and pays him to writhe about in leathers.

Paul comes there one night and witnesses the humiliation and self-loathing with his own eyes. He and his brother have always been close, but this depressive streak in Daniel lies too deeply hidden for him to understand. Whatever he tries to do to help - offering him money, a job, a bed for the night - the self-destructive urge is too strong and Daniel spirals further downwards into seedy nightclubs and stronger drugs.

The audience watches the clumsy, dim-witted Daniel let his life slip away through a series of flashbacks, remembered by his brother. Rather than seeing a vain, boring idiot, we are shown glimpses of a lost little boy, riddled with insecurities, in the oiled-down body of a man.

Writer/director Jean-Pierre Sinapi handles this disturbing subject beautifully and adapts Paul Smaïl's novel into a painfully poignant film. Both Sami Bouajila - last seen in Embrassez Qui Vous Voudrez - and Jalil Lespert give memorably convincing performances, as does Sylvie Testud who plays Paul's ever-patient girlfriend.

Reviewed on: 30 Oct 2003
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Two brothers struggle to find happiness in a sleazy world of drugs and violence.
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Director: Jean-Pierre Sinapi

Writer: Jean Pierre Sinapi, based on the novel by Paul Smaïl

Starring: Sami Bouajila, Jalil Lespert, Sylvie Testud

Year: 2002

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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