The agony and ecstasy of first love
by David-Elijah Nahmod
Hollywood, unfortunately, no longer has any interest in making intense, character-driven human dramas like this lovely French offering. Produced a dozen years ago, Come Undone is a beautiful story about coming out to oneself and experiencing first love.
Lyrically shot in a small French seaside town, Come Undone spends the summer with Mathieu (Jeremie Elkaim), a teenager who thinks he’s straight until he meets Cedric (Stéphane Rideau), an impossibly sexy and far more open young man. The two fall deeply and intensely in love, as only the young can.
At first ashamed of the relationship, Mathieu, who had recently been dating a girl, slowly comes to accept the reality of who he really is. At the beginning of the film he chides Cedric for displaying affection in public. Much later, when he’s questioned by his aunt and by Cedric’s father, he admits that yes, they are indeed boyfriends. Soon after, he comes out to his mom. Mom already knew—don’t they always?
The scenes between the two boys are simple and quiet. They lie on the beach and fall asleep. They walk around and talk. They kiss. There are no special effects, no car chases, no explosions. Yet Come Undone, which goes beneath the surface of its script to let us know who these characters are and how they feel, is far more riveting than any Hollywood blockbuster could ever hope to be. The emotional depth of their romance is mesmerizing, and it leaves Mathieu ready to face the world as an out gay man.
The film’s sexuality is graphic: a sequence featuring Mathieu and Cedric making love on the beach is startling for a film that isn’t pornographic. The sequence adds to Come Undone’s beautiful romanticism.
Come Undone—in French with English subtitles—is available on DVD via First Run Features (firstrunfeatures.com).