Main cast: Patrick Dewaere (Marc), Patrick Bouchitey (Philippe), and Christine Pascal (Chantal)
Director: Claude Miller
La Meilleure façon de marcher, or The Best Way to Walk, is a line in a song sang by the kids at the summer vacation camp in which this movie takes place in. Set in 1960, we have two very different camp instructors. Philippe teaches drama and is on the sensitive side, which Marc is an aggressive jock who believes that the “best way to walk” is to swagger in exaggerated machismo just like him.
The fun starts when one night Marc accidentally stumbles upon Philippe when Philippe is indulging in a little private crossdressing session. Hoping to keep his proclivities a secret, Philippe tries to befriend Marc by suggesting that their charges learn and play together. That doesn’t bode well, as you can imagine. But it gets worse. Marc begins teasing Philippe in ways that often cross over the line to cruelty. When Philippe’s girlfriend Chantal shows up to visit and clearly remains devoted to Philippe despite Marc’s arrogant assumption that Philippe is an effeminate twerp, Marc ramps up his antics. The sad thing is, this man doesn’t really know what he is doing most of the time – he actually gets bewildered when his “teasing” of Philippe goes awry.
While Patrick Dewaere’s Marc is a mesmerizing presence in this movie as he is at the same time being repulsively brutish and radiating a kind of raw animal magnetism that is quite sexy, really, I am not sure what this movie is trying to say. A big problem is the denouement which peters off into a meek ending that seems forced. Not to give too many things away, let me just say that Philippe is not gay in this movie. At least, I don’t think he is. He may be bisexual, but the ending sees him in an unconvincing happily for now moment with Chantal.
That turn of event doesn’t ring true to me considering how the relationship between Chantal and Philippe in the movie leading up to that point is a dismal one. Chantal remains inexplicably devoted to Philippe who is clearly using her as a cheap alternative to the therapist’s couch and they don’t even seem happy together, so that ending is a what-on-earth moment to me. I believe that I’d prefer that the movie has left Philippe’s sexuality ambiguous and open to the viewer’s interpretation because that would make all the innuendo-laden passive-aggressive scenes between Marc and Philippe feel less like cheap attempts to titillate the audience.
Despite my being unsure of what this movie is trying to tell me, I have to say that the two main actors carry their roles pretty well. Philippe is appropriately sullen and dour, the lone sensitive and intelligent fellow surrounded by illiterate and insensitive jocks. Marc on the other remains a compelling character to watch because his brutish attempts ring true despite an occasional over the top moment or two. The late Patrick Dewaere being very easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt, of course, heh. All in all, this is a pretty watchable, if flawed, movie.