37th Discussion: Comme Les Autres (2008)

We were too lazy to stick around for an in-depth discussion and decided to do it online. Here are some questions that you may want to consider and leave a comment. If you have other questions or other ideas about the movie, please feel free to comment too.

1. Why is the French title “Like the Others” change to “Baby Love” in translation? What is the significance?

2. There is a straight sex scene (to which the female movie-goer who sat behind me turned to her friend asked, “So he is straight?”). Why do you think there is a straight sex scene?

3. The gay sex scene is only implied while the straight sex scene is rather explicit and long-drawn. Is it homophobic?

4. Is it believable that a man would give up his long-term stable relationship for an unknown (in this case, the unknown is a future baby)?

5. Who else thinks Philippe is hot as hell?

6. What is the portrayal of class issues in this film?

7. What is the portrayal of family in this film?

7a. Every time the young boys ask difficult questions at the dining table, they are asked to leave. What do you make of this?

8. How would you characterize the love between Emmanuel and Philippe?

9. When Cathy asks Emmanuel to sit in her office, he first suspects that he has HIV before he figures out he is infertile. Is this homophobic in any way?

10. Emmanuel lives in Belville, a district with various races but how many non-White characters are there? Why?

11. Why is an illegal immigrant the surrogate mother? Do you think she’s being used by Emmanuel or even the director just as a plot device? What issues of illegal migrancy are brought up? Putting the film in Singapore context, do you think the director is for or against migrants?

12. What is the depiction of gender in the movie? Are there any caricatures of women?

13. In the last scene, it is suggested that Cathy sleeps with the black man. Is

14. Do you find this film funny? At which scenes and why? Are we laughing because of the loss in translation or is the humor universal? If you think that the film is funny, why do you think the director injects humor in a film with a serious theme?


Filed under Class, Family, France, Gay, HIV/AIDS, Love, Politics, Race

4 responses to “37th Discussion: Comme Les Autres (2008)

  1. neth

    The french title , “like the others/ like any other”, resonates more with me.
    It assigns the role of the “other” to the heterosexuals, quietly rallying that the queers, and our ways are not the deviants of societal norms.
    In fact, the heteros were the ones leading alternate lifestyles.
    Fina agreeing to be a surrogate mother in exchange for permanent residency status.
    Cathy being an eligible (fertile) single woman but opting for adoption.
    The film made me feel, “normal”, normal to be gay.
    For that, I’m grateful.

    The union between two heterosexuals has always been “justified” by the laws of nature, that there will be a product (baby) to their love.
    The credit of the english title, “baby love”, lies in it allowing that justification to be be subverted.

    The sex scene was very powerful in the sense of how it trivializes hetero sex.
    It weakens the “higher” standing of hetero sex over homo sex.
    It was sex between two people that did not and could not (because of Emmanuel’s infertility) lead to the conception of a child.
    Sex here was because of love, lust, loneliness, spur of the moment, passion, curiosity etc.
    People really do not make love simply to make babies.

    If gay sex was shown on screen, the point above will not be as strong.
    I rather enjoy the tension evident in the space that they shared on the wedding day, and night, before actual physical contact (hug/kiss).

    The movie isn’t about race.
    But it is a valid point raised.
    The world is not as assimilated as it can be, even in cosmopolitan paris.

    Perhaps the light-hearted delivery of such serious life issues is to remind everyone to loosen up and allow life to happen.
    Emmanuel’s desire to have a baby really isn’t that crazy.
    What is crazy is the hurdles he had to overcome.

    • Aaron

      1. Can I clarify with you? Do you mean although there is a change in title, the two titles essentially do the same work, that is, they both subvert what is “normal” and what is not?

      2 and 3. I like your reasoning for the hetero sex although isn’t representation important? Black people in America often lament that they are not represented onscreen, and this is a form of racism. In this case, hetero sex is represented but not gay sex. Is this a form of homophobia? Why is it that if the gay sex is depicted, the point you raised in (2) won’t be as strong? Couldn’t the director depict both hetero sex and gay sex in different ways to contrast the scenes?

  2. 1. Yes.
    2. Gay sex cannot lead to the conception of babies. Had they depicted it, it will be another “let’s fuck not to conceive” sex scene?

  3. Gonzalo

    I hated this movie so much because of points 1 and 2.

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