A rent boy needs a home, a baker needs love and the bakery assistant needs someone to adore her. Set in a smallish town in Belgium, the three needy characters form a trio that bends and breaks the rules of love.
Baker Henry (Jean‑Michel Balthazar) indulges from time to time in webcam sex with Argentinian Lucas (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) . Lucas is a weedy-looking thing and is as pasty as Henry’s pre-baked dough. During one of their intimate sessions, Lucas declares to Henry: ‘I have no job, no family. Everyone hates me … I am really, really sad.’
Henry falls for Lucas (in a confused and needy way) and spends his life-savings on a ticket to fly Lucas to Belgium so he can live with him. He gives Lucas a home (which he desperately needs), he gives him his ‘love’ (which Lucas doesn’t really want), and he sets him to work for free amidst the flour and ovens in his bakery. Lucas has little choice over his ‘dough-slave’ position.
Understandably, Lucas wants to buck. He is irritated and feels claustrophobic. Using sex to assure shelter is a currency that has lost its value; and it is made complicated by his falling in love with the sweet and tender Audrey (Monia Chokri), who works in the bakery. She’s the yeast in Lucas’ desire and in this he finds the confidence to breathe with fresh masculinity. Henry is jealous and demands more attention from Lucas as a result.
Director David Lambert directs with subdued greys and greens: colours of cabbage, quiet fear and a melting heart. He staccatos this Belgian malaise with some beautifully choreographed flamboyant and volcanic moments. There’s a bouncy Henry throwing his flour around the kitchen as he listens to opera music, Lucas’ unforgettable taut desperation when he realises his new home comes with a price, and some claret-coloured moments in the town’s gay brothel.
Je suis a Toi is at heart a film about ownership and independence, and our need to be loved, but not controlled. It is delicate territory, and Lambert assures the characters stay beautifully human. So much so, that when we would be tempted to judge a character’s unreasonable behaviour, we don’t. Instead our sensibility is guided, never driven, towards a new lesson in love.
Director: David Lambert (2014)