The Adventures Of Felix

Felix (Sami Bouajila) may be gay, HIV+ and of Arab descent, but what's refreshing about French directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau's winning, character-driven road movie is that that's simply who Felix is; it's not necessarily what the movie's about. Recently laid off from his job as a sailor on an English Channel ferry, Felix decides to "go...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Felix (Sami Bouajila) may be gay, HIV+ and of Arab descent, but what's refreshing about French directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau's winning, character-driven road movie is that that's simply who Felix is; it's not necessarily what the movie's about. Recently laid off from his job as a sailor on an English Channel ferry, Felix decides to "go with the flow." He applies for unemployment and sets about tying up the loose ends of his life, and while putting his late mother's apartment in order finds a strongbox containing some cash, a few old photographs and a packet of letters postmarked "Marseilles." They're from the father Felix has never met: He abandoned his family shortly before Felix's birth. Intrigued by the prospect of seeing his father for the first time, Felix packs a bag, kisses his boyfriend (Pierre-Loup Rajot) goodbye and hits the road, hitchhiking from Dieppe to Marseilles. The first night on the road, however, Felix runs into trouble. Walking through the deserted streets of Rouen, he witnesses a vicious attack on an immigrant; when he tries to intervene, Felix is beaten. He runs to a police station but suddenly panics and flees without telling the police what he saw. Felix continues on his journey through France, meeting people who, however briefly, assume familial roles: 17-year-old "little brother" Jules (Charly Sergue), a gay art student whom Felix encourages to leave his small, provincial town and see the world; "mother" Mathilde (played by the venerable star of French cabaret and screen, Patachou), a wise widow who adopts Felix for the night and tries to convince him to return to Rouen and his responsibilities there; a "cousin" of the kissing variety (Philippe Garziano); Isabelle (Ariane Ascaride), a "sister" and the mother of three kids, all of whom have different fathers; and, finally, a father of sorts (Maurice Bénichou). This is no great journey of self-discovery — Ducastel and Martineau have no illusions about the capacity of a cross-country trip to change one's life — but Felix does realize a thing or two about himself, and they're hard, solid truths. Sectioned neatly into chapters with titles like "Mon petit frere" and "Ma mere," the film is perhaps a little too rigid, even by the conventions of road movies. But the tight structure is softened by the tremendous warmth and honesty with which the film is played.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Felix (Sami Bouajila) may be gay, HIV+ and of Arab descent, but what's refreshing about French directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau's winning, character-driven road movie is that that's simply who Felix is; it's not necessarily what the movie's… (more)

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