Blogpost, French Cinema

Curiosity and a lack of judgment. Those, Mathieu, are the two things that you bring to nigh every role I have seen you play.

Combined, these two things open up a world of joy, a world of passion, a world of love.

Only the curious will be ready to engage with whatever is placed within their path. Only the curious will, by engaging with it, constantly be changing, opening themselves into the realm of new experiences, new becomings, new ways of being.

And only those who are ready to look at whatever they find without judgment will discover in those things that they find a sense of what those things truly are, rather than what the uncurious person wants them to be (and in finding only what they want to find, thereby reaffirming their lack of genuine curiosity).

The curious looks. Those eyes, Mathieu, which caress and penetrate like all of the best lovers should, knowing when with those eyes to show anger and contempt at being shut out of the other’s life, knowing when to shine when the joy begins to happen – the joy that is the becoming of commune, of being with others and with the world around us. Those eyes, Mathieu, with their curved, slightly bulging openness – that is where it all starts.

You don’t love like a romantic, Mathieu. You don’t see in the women that you meet onscreen some idealised version of womanhood, even if some creatures are for you more beautiful in appearance than others – the cause of a besottedness that, being curious and without judgment, you will follow in order simply to see where it leads. You have to and responsibility can go hang because you only have one life and there is no option other than to lead it with all of the passion and folly that it merits.

Not like a romantic, you love without prejudice, Mathieu. You love and will not be afraid to call out – precisely because you do love – those aspects of your partners for which we reserve the lowest terms: bitch, cunt, salope.

And where the rest of the world uses these words as reasons not to look at people properly,  at reasons to judge, you see these words as what they really are: a celebration of life to be led as it must and can only be, as opposed to how other people think it should be. These are not words with which to judge and thus conceal others; let us love bitchiness, let us love cuntitude and let us love saloperie, because along with sacrifice and warmth, these are equally real.

A whore, a doctoral candidate, someone else’s wife, and even when your relationship with the other person has turned to hatred and you are no longer together: you, Mathieu, still love the people that you are with and your eyes grow and shine with joy as you discover yet more about this person. When in their rancour they hiss at you, this is still the source of joy, because even though it clearly is often infuriating for others that you cannot but bring them to painful, restless life, you still bring them to painful, restless life.

And the same goes for yourself: you get high on finding a new bitterness to stutter out, a new connection – good or bad, it’s all the same, since this also is simply the joy of living: through a curiosity to learn, and without judgment fearlessly to become – this is how one lives.

We see this in the way your head tilts down at moments of joy: you look down and find the earth to be a chthonic as you inhale, raise that smoking hand in the air with an excited finger wag, and pace – pacing and prowling because the brain is fizzing over with ideas, and your body cannot contain it, and your sentences start with those stutters, because new sensations, new thoughts, new meanings must all start with stutters – because if they came out perfectly, whole, sedately and not in the throes of joy, then clearly these would not be moments of the new, of becoming.

No wonder yours is a screen life littered with doomed relationships. Who can put up with the intensity of constant, unprejudiced scrutiny and curiosity? Such charge cannot be endured for too long – and so perhaps works better in intense bursts and fits, the stuff of memory, fondness, the best experiences lived even at the moment as fit for memory, relegated from the present to the past straight away – we must separate and only have memories of each other – because it is just too exciting to be with you in the present. The impossibility of life: an overwhelming sense of reality must be killed in order to cope with it. But bring on that life again and again, compulsively, convulsively, because there is no tomorrow.

Maybe sporadically you must play cripples, then, Mathieu. A twin logic is at work: the handicap functions as a signal of how the life that you bring to the screen is just too much for the world of prejudice to be able to bear, but by God do you also show that a handicap is, like being a salope, not just something to celebrate, but a means to gain access to different, more intense joys than any able bodied person could achieve.

When I am with your spectral screen presence, Mathieu, I feel alive. Or rather, I feel obliged to write that I feel like I want to live. Which must mean somehow that I am not alive. Because I know that I hold myself back out of fear; I am curious, but I fear the judgment of others so do not have the courage you have. But I shall try always to follow your example and to try to have your courage – to put my body, my mind, my spirit into any and every situation that I can, and to find in there what patently, abundantly, and always is only ever there: life. And to offer to life the only thing that I have to give: all of the love that I can, wide-eyed, curious, judgment be dispelled, becoming and in looking at life and with life looking plainly back, thanks to you, Mathieu, and your example, I can begin to feel the joy.