Madame (Stephane Riethauser)

madame

Madame is Caroline, a ninety-year old self-made woman who´s countered and overcome sexism all her life with wit and with humour. Her grandson Stéphane is now victim of  homophobia. when he tries to overcome that which he´s internalised, he finds his grandmother externalising it for and onto him.  The sufferings of grandmother and grandson both stem from sexism. But as the film unfolds and he comes to accept his homosexuality, she becomes part of the problem. Will their love overcome his insistence on being himself?

A beautiful documentary. A love letter from a gay grandson to his grandmother, and to my knowledge, unique in covering this thematic. It´s beautifully structured and narrated, with a poetic voice-over that gets at the heart of the sexism in society, founded on homophobia, and so encompassing that it makes Stéphane turn against himself and against nature. That it´s so beautifully conveyed is extraordinary. The filmmaker is lucky in having so much audio-visual material, covering his whole life, to draw upon. But it takes artistry to give it such poetic shape, to make the strong and pointed political implications seem so simple and to give the impression that they unfurl so naturally.

Madame and her grandson are both very charismatic, which helps. If the film had nothing else, that alone would make it watchable. But there is so much more: the narration, the structure, the editing, the choice of music, the gentle and insistent attempts to understand oneself and each other. Very beautiful.

Playing as part of the Q-Film Weekender at the Northampton Playhouse

José Arroyo

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