The Best Way to Walk (1976)

“The best way to walk is our way to walk.”

The French film The Best Way to Walk is set in a summer camp for boys. Philippe (Patrick Bouchitey) is the gentle, subdued theatre counselor whose father runs the camp. Philippe doesn’t really mingle well with the other male counselors, and he doesn’t enjoy their macho male bonhomie. Clashes between Philippe and the other counselors are evident very quickly, and the aggressive PE instructor, Marc (Patrick Dewaere) acts as a ringleader encouraging the other counselors in coarse behaviour. One night, Marc barges into Philippe’s room and discovers Philippe dressed as a woman. The relationship between Marc and Philippe takes an ugly turn. There’s an implied threat and violence in Marc’s interactions with Philippe. Philippe, at first, struggles to establish some sort of agreement of silence from Marc, but as Marc’s taunts grow more obvious, Philippe tries to avoid any confrontations.

The Best Way to Walk is a subtle film with excellent performances from the cast. Marc and Philippe are perfect foils for one another. Marc is brash, and confident, and Philippe tries to gain confidence and respectability by producing his girlfriend, Chantal (Christine Pascal). Just as Philippe comforts a puny boy who is being picked on by another, more aggressive child, we can see that Philippe was also the sort of little boy who suffered bouts of bullying. And this bullying continues into the adult macho atmosphere of the social interactions that take place between the camp counselors. In the fishbowl of the summer camp, Marc harasses Philippe even using his students to dominate situations at several points, and the film concentrates on exactly how Marc reacts to Philippe’s ‘secret’ more than anything else. Marc, Philippe, and Chantal all have problems with their sexuality–Marc is threatened and unsettled by Philippe, but Chantal and Marc are both obviously together because their relationship is unthreatening. When another counselor is pilloried for moral transgressions, the situation comes to a head. This excellent film deserves more recognition than it currently receives, and it remains remarkably undated–especially when one considers that the film was made in the mid-70s. Fans of French cinema will enjoy this film made a few years prior to Patrick Deweare’s suicide in 1982. The Best Way To Walk, directed by Claude Miller, is in French with English subtitles.

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