"Give Me Your Hand": Double Vision By Sergei Anashkin

in 26th Torino Film Festival

by Sergei Anashkin

There was no chance for the French film Give Me Your Hand (also “On The Blacktop”, Donne-moi la main) to win an award in Turin. The competition seemed dedicated to films dealing with family values, made in a realistic (or naturalistic) manner. There were psychological sketches, drawings from everyday life, and reports about social problems. Give Me Your Hand belongs to a different kind of movie. It is Pascal-Alex Vincent’s first feature, but his film has strong roots in the poetical realist tradition, which was established by legendary French directors of 1930, such as Jean Vigo and Jean Cocteau.

The young filmmaker presents us with a parable about the paradoxes of the growing-up process, directed like a metaphorical road movie about the trip from boyhood to manhood. Male twins go hitchhiking from France to Spain in order to attend their mother’s funeral. Their journey includes amusing adventures, new landscapes, casual acquaintances and sex without obligations. The brothers are very close, as only twins can be. They understood each other without any worlds; they are two parts of one unity. But step by step, Quentin and Antoine discover their own identities. After a night of love with a handsome guy, Quentin discovers his homosexuality. Antoine cannot accept it and betrays his brother once. Quentin and Antoine go separately the rest of the way, meeting each other only at their final destination. The closeness between them has gone. They recognize that the tensions of brotherhood will connect them forever, but they will now lead separate lives.

The starting point of the trip is a city and it finishes by the sea, forming a line from the world of chaos to calm, from their father to their dead mother. We never see the parents. The twins only speak about them. Quentin and Antoine never knew their Mother well. As for the Father, he seems to be an authoritarian person. Give Me Your Hand recalls such metaphorical films about a family as The Return (Vozvrashcheniye by Andrei Zvyagintsev, 2003). Maybe the Father is a symbol of power and discipline. But at the same time he is a kind of indifferent God (like a sleeping god in Native African religions). The Mother embodies the power of nature, the inner world of emotions and desires. The brothers not only move from France to Spain, the trip is also a mental journey, from submission to freedom, and an initiation rite. Twins, in general, are very important cultural and mythological symbols, which represent not only unity and brotherhood, but sometimes two sides of one character or deep differences between personalities.

Pascal-Alex Vincent began his cinema career as a director of short and animation films. One can find anime and manga influences in the visual language of Give Me Your Hand. His visual style recalls the method of Japanese animation and the iconography of early Renaissance portraits. Vincent combines the influences of Asian pop culture with the heritage of classical European painting.