Wild Reeds (Les Roseaux sauvages) is a French drama about the passage from childhood to adulthood and sexual awakening. Set in South West France in 1962, towards the end of the Algerian War. Francois (Gale Morel) is a shy young student at a boarding school and working towards his high school diploma. His best friend Maite (Elodie Bouchez) is also the daughter of his French teacher Madame Alvarez (Michele Moretti).
François is coming to realise he is gay and when he meets Serge (Stephane Rideau), a farmer’s son, he embarks upon a sexual relationship with him. While François is developing feelings for Serge, Serge’s was merely curious and he is much more interested in Maite. Maite, despite her disappointment, encourages Francois to come out of the closet. Also interested in Maite is Henri (Frederic Gorny) an Algerian Frenchman, who forces Francois to accept his homosexuality and also attracts the hatred of Serge.
When Serge’s older brother is killed in the war, Madame Alvarez, with whom he was having a relationship, mentally unravels, being unable to cope with the fact that she would not help him desert the army. She is taken away for treatment.
The film shows the characters dealing with personal and political upheaval.
“The film perfectly understands the tentative experimentation and frequent self-loathing of adolescence, the difficulty of knowing whom to trust and how much to trust them, as well as how incendiary an age this can be, with uncertain psyches ready to explode at minimal provocation.”
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“As always, Techine is excellent at exploring “tiny” personal flashes that assume larger meaning when placed against the broader historical context.”
— Emanuel Levy, Variety
“Every character–not just the kids, but the teachers as well–comes alive with a complexity worthy of Jean Renoir. The lyricism of Wild Reeds doesn’t cast a smoke screen of nostalgia, it brings us closer to the experience of adolescence.”
— David Ansen, Newsweek
Did You Know
A shorter television version of Wild Reeds was released entitled ‘Tous les garcons et les filles de leur age: le chene et le roseau’.
Director Andre Techine has said that the story is based on his own memories. As the Algerian War was taboo, films on the subject were rare. Review our Gay Themed Films Here