The title of Les Garçons et Guillaume, à Table!, the movie that swept this year’s Césars (the French Oscars) with five awards, including best film and best actor, says it all. When he was a child, that was the phrase used by Guillaume’s mother to call him and his brothers to dinner. His brothers were the garçons – rough, rowdy, sporty and handsome – and Guillaume was – something else. An effeminate boy – or as he says, “feminine” – he thought he was really a girl and worshipped
and identified with his distant, chain-smoking, tough-talking mother to get her attention and make sure he continued to be distinguished from those garçons.
Guillaume is Guillaume Gallienne, a Comédie Française actor who wrote, directed and acted in this funny, original film.
It is structured as a movie within a play within a movie. We see Guillaume preparing to go on stage and then performing in his autobiographical one-man show (which the film is built on). As he talks about his childhood, the camera segues back-and-forth between the stage and a filmed sequence of the scene he is describing, with the grown-up Guillaume convincingly playing both his younger self and his mother.
The young Guillaume is definitely not one of the garçons, and no one lets him forget it, least of all his sports-obsessed father and his bullying brothers and schoolmates. Without their violent attentions, it seems as if the sweet-natured Guillaume would be perfectly happy with himself.
In one of the more amusing scenes, the child Guillaume is in his bedroom playacting a scene in which Empress Sisi of Austria is scolded by her mother. Lacking access to women’s clothes, he improvises by belting a comforter around his waist and tying a sweater around his head, a getup he has difficulty explaining when his father bursts into the room.
Some might be offended by the lighthearted way the traumas of being an effeminate boy in a macho world are treated. Being bullied is certainly no joke to anyone who has experienced it, but at the same time it is rather refreshing to see this subject treated without the usual anguish.
Others will find the surprise ending highly improbable and politically incorrect, but Guillaume Gallienne has a good answer to that – this is his own story.
This appealing film is entertaining and memorable. For that, all the credit goes to Gallienne’s charm and talent as an actor and writer. He himself gives all the credit to his mother for giving him a model to emulate and imitate, thereby turning him into an actor.Favorite