Winter Boy is streaming now on MUBI.
Christophe Honoré’s profoundly personal story of teenage grief pulls no punches yet maintains glimmers of hope throughout as he explores the murky depths of the grieving process. Anyone who has lost someone close will relate to the deep and complex emotional rollercoaster of Winter Boy as we follow seventeen-year-old Lucas (Paul Kircher), a young gay man just finding his feet in life when he is sharply thrown into the dark void of loss and grief.
On a cold winter’s night, Lucas’ boarding school life is suddenly cut short when he is summoned back to the family home at the foot of the Alps and told his dad has died in a terrible car crash. Lucas tries to keep everything together as he greets his devastated mother (Juliette Binoche) and older brother, Quentin (Vincent Lacoste). But it’s not long before a tsunami of grief engulfs him as he tries to make sense of the senseless. In an attempt to navigate his inner pain and turmoil, Lucas travels to his brother’s place in Paris, where he meets Quentin’s gay roommate Lilio (Erwan Kepoa Falé), with whom he develops a bond. But as Lucas explains in a rare moment of honesty, “I don’t like my mind right now… I’d prefer my body to take all the space.” This includes coming on to the older Lilio, who pushes Lucas away while attempting to maintain care and support. But can Lucas free himself from the spiralling effects of repressed anger, pain and grief before it consumes him?
Anyone familiar with Honoré’s back catalogue will know that his work ebbs and flows with themes of shared gay experience, sibling relationships and the diverse strands of humanity that bind us all together. He is a director who takes creative risks and regularly challenges his own style. In Winter Boy, Honoré explores what feels like a set of painful and transformational memories he has bravely chosen to burn into celluloid. Here teenage emotions are unpicked before being stitched back together into a timeless tapestry that is part coming-of-age and part grief and recovery drama. At the heart of this journey is Kircher, who offers us an utterly magnetic and stunning central performance that oozes charm, honesty and raw emotion. Equally mesmerising are Binoche, Lacoste and Falé as Lilio, who makes his feature debut.
Meanwhile, Rémy Chevrin’s use of a range of pink hues plays with the memories sitting at the heart of this powerful movie. Honoré plunges us into the depths of winter, internally and externally, as the title suggests. But as spring comes into view, the buds of recovery can be seen in a film that wears its heart on its sleeve and understands the complexity of the grieving process for young people facing the void of death for the first time.
SUNSET CEMETARY (SHORT FILM)
Joseph (Quentin Dolmaire) never had the confidence to embrace who he was or what he wanted when his older brother was alive. Over the years, he attempted to cover up his sexuality with countless girlfriends he freely admitted he didn’t make happy. And while Joseph would confide in his older brother Martin, he never managed to tell him he was gay. Martin had always known and had tried so many times to give Joseph the space to say to him. But now Martin is gone, having lost his battle with cancer, and Joseph regrets all those times he could have ‘come out’ but didn’t. But life is for living, right? And it’s time for Joseph to ditch the nerves and embrace everything his brother would have wanted him to do. After all, one night can change the trajectory of a life, and one kiss can help spark a whole new and exciting future. Sunset Cemetery could be described as a tale of grief and regret. But Roman Kané’s delightful short, at its heart, is a celebration of life, connection and rebirth as a grieving young brother finally embraces the freedom his older brother longed for him to enjoy. AVAILABLE IN THE FRENCH BOYS COLLECTION FROM NQV MEDIA.
LIE WITH ME
SUMMER OF 85
Winter Boy | 2hr 2min | France | 2022
In Winter Boy, Honoré unveils and explores what feels like a set of painful and transformational memories he has chosen to burn into celluloid. Here teenage emotions are unpicked before being stitched back together into a timeless tapestry that is part coming-of-age and part grief and recovery drama.