Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cross My Heart

By Frank Anthony Polito

One of the things I've always admired about Bloggers like my good pal Kenneth "in the 212" Walsh and Matt "Boy Culture" Rettenmund is their ability to influence people with what they post about. Long ago when I had dreams of being a famous actor I would say to myself: "When I make a movie, I'll hire The Flying Neutrinos to do the music." Or "When I go on Rosie O'Donnell I'll talk about my favorite Canadian band Spirit of the West -- and then everyone else in the US will know who they are, and they'll finally get the recognition they deserve!" Guess I've always prided myself in liking things that aren't considered "mainstream."

Like this little gem of a French film I first came upon back in the early '90s on Cinemax: La Fracture du Myocarde.

At the time, I was studying le francais in college, so I was into all things French. I'd seen Cyrano with Gerard Depardieu at the DFT in Detroit, along with Camille Claudel and Au Revoir Les Enfants. So when I came upon "Cross My Heart" I set the timer on the old VCR. (The English title, which is not particularly close to the original French -- "Broken Heart" would be more apt, I think -- comes from a scene in the film when all the children cross their heart as they make a mutual vow.)

The story focuses on a 12-year-old boy named Martin Gaudiner. When his mother dies unexpectedly from a broken heart (described sweetly in the film by one of the children as "a piece of her heart broke off"), Martin's friends worry that he'll be sent to live in an orphanage. Soon, they all band together to help take care of him in his mother's absence.

Sylvain Copans as Martin Gaudiner

Apparently -- and I didn't realize this until doing a little online research -- all of the children in the film, with the exception of Martin and Jerome (the towheaded boy above, who reminds me of Craig at that age), were actual students at the school where the movie was filmed. To be honest, I'm not surprised to learn this. Even though they're speaking in French, you get a sense in watching that the kids aren't the greatest actors. But there is something about their youthful innocence that makes the film even more endearing. The whole movie has a very "indie" feeling which I strongly prefer. Reminds me of other films of that time like Edge of Seventeen and Breathing Room.

Surprisingly, someone posted the entire film on YouTube just last month. You can check out part 1 below, and then there are 6 other parts. In total, it runs about 1 hour 40 minutes. 

Incidentally, there's a cute little song featured throughout the film called "Pincez-Moi" ("Pinch Me") that I believe was originally written for the film. It can be heard right near the opening, and again over the end credits. The version that runs over the end credits, sung by someone named Philippe Kelly, makes me weep every time I hear it <sniffle>

Also of note: according to Wikipedia, it seems that Steven Spielberg at one time had purchased the rights to make an American version of the film, but it never came to pass :-(

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