On the Road

Thumbing it across France, with charming, surprising results

Written and directed by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (Jeanne and the Perfect Guy), the disarmingly inventive road movie Adventures of Felix follows the idiosyncratic path of a sweet-natured, gay, half-French/half-Arab youth (Sami Bouajila) who, on being laid off from his jobs, decides to hitchhike across France to Marseilles, where he hopes to meet the father he never knew. And so, kissing his schoolteacher boyfriend (Pierre-Loup Rajot) goodbye (Felix is, among other things, the most same-sex smoochingest movie ever made), our hero sets off with a smile on his lips and a song by that most inimitable of all jazz chanteuses, Blossom Dearie, in his head.

Parsing the long-accepted notion that gays "choose" their families, chapter titles inform us that the various people Felix meets along the way become for him in retrospect "My Grandmother," "My Little Brother," "My Cousin," "My Sister" and finally "My Father." All of this carries a special poignancy as Felix is HIV-positive and on the protease inhibitors cocktail.

This doesn't dampen his spirits, however, nor inhibit his sexual life, which pointedly involves the use of condoms. Trouble of another sort looms via a subplot in which our hero witnesses a racist attack and (being a likely subject to such an attack himself) is terrified of going to the police. Highlighted by an incredibly lively performance by '50s-era music-hall singer Patachou (as the "Grandmother"), it's a film whose surface charm never gets in the way of its profound seriousness about living life to the fullest--especially when one knows it isn't going to be a terribly long one.

 
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