The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
Like a lot of French films, "Wild Reeds" opens with a wedding. But it is a wedding of desperation, not romance. It is 1962, near the end of the Algerian war that bitterly divided France. The groom has been serving in the army in Algeria, and during the wedding feast, he confesses to a former teacher that the only reason he got married was to go on leave. He begs the teacher, a Communist Party member, to hide him so he won't have to return. There is a bond of love between them, but she refuses. Three days later, he is gone, and soon after that, he is dead.
The wedding has introduced many of the key players in the story, although at first we don't realize who they are. The teacher, Madame Alvarez (Michele Moretti), has a daughter named Maite (Elodie Bouchez) who is a student in the school. A boy named Francois (Gael Morel) is her best friend. Another of his close friends is Serge (Stephane Rideau), the younger brother of the dead soldier.
At the funeral, as Serge runs away, blinded by tears, Francois sends Maite after him: "Only you can help him." Maite says something awkward about the brother's heroism, but Serge says bitterly, "He wanted to escape. Ask your mother." The war, which seemed far away from the quiet provincial school, now seems closer, and it comes closer still with the arrival of a new student: Henri (Frederic Gorny). He is a ped noir, an Algerian-born Frenchman, who has fled with his family.
Francois is uncertain of his sexuality, and his confusion is complicated by inexperience. Maite is his best friend, but they keep at arm's length from each other. His secret is that he is attracted to Serge, a boarding school veteran who thinks nothing of it when they do have sex, but is not homosexual and doesn't want any deeper involvement with Francois. Serge, in fact, is attracted to Maite.