REVIEW : Before I Forget (2007)

It is difficult for me to articulate quite why it is that I adore Jacques Nolot’s Avant Que J’Oublie (2007), or Before I Forget as it is known to English speakers.  Ostensibly your typical French drama about middle class angst, alienation and spiritual decay, the film deals with an ageing gay man who looks back over his life with considerable bitterness as he considers all the things he lost and all the things he failed to gain.  However, while filled with negativity about his own past, the central character Pierre (played by Nolot) is gripped by terror when he thinks about the future as his health dwindles, his sex drive sputters and his days come to be consumed by talk of money, food and how he will most likely die alone.  There are hundreds of films that deal in exactly this kind of bourgeois malaise and many of them leave me completely cold. What makes Nolot’s films so special is that, unlike many dramas that aim for the universality of human emotions while achieving only the generic, Nolot’s films are specific.  They carry the specificity that comes only from the autobiographical and it is the candour with which Nolot describes his life that makes his films so uncomfortable and yet so utterly compelling.

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