Les goûts et les couleurs [To Each, Her Own] (2018)

Les goûts et les couleurs
Director: Myriam Aziza
Writer: Myriam Aziza, Denyse Rodriguez-Tomé
Cast: Sarah Stern, Jean-Christophe Folly, Julia Piaton, Catherine Jacob, Richard Berry, Arié Elmaleh, Clémentine Poidatz, Stéphane Deba, David Houri, Lionel Lingelser
Seen on: 11.4.2020

Content Note: bimisia

Plot:
Simone (Sarah Stern) and Claire (Julia Piaton) have been dating for three years now. They are very serious, nevertheless Simone has trouble coming out to her religious Jewish parents (Catherine Jacob, Richard Berry), especially since her brother Matt (David Houri) already came out as gay and was never allowed to bring his husband Nathaniel (Lionel Lingelser) to family events. But with her other brother David’s (Arié Elmaleh) wedding coming up, Simone really wants to officially bring Claire. As Simone struggles to figure things out, she finds herself drawn to Wali (Jean-Christophe Folly) with whom she shares a passion for food. That Wali is a man doesn’t make things any easier either.

To Each, Her Own is a story with a bi protagonist filmed by a woman, so I figured I’d give the whole love triangle thing a pass (not a fan of the trope) and give the film a shot. And it was alright, but didn’t blow me away, especially because of the bimisia that permeates the entire film.

The film poster showing Simone (Sarah Stern), Wali (Jean-Christophe Folly) and Claire (Julia Piaton).

[SPOILERS]

Regarding the love triangle, To Each, Her Own does have the right thrust for me in how to resolve it: not with an either-or decision, but with a both-and. Unfortunately the way that solution is handled is all kinds of problematic. In the end, both Claire and Wali show up at the brother’s wedding (independently of each other) and Simone introduces Claire as her girlfriend and Wali as her lover. And this solution to the situation where Simone is just in love with two people is not discussed or hashed out with Wali or Claire. The three ride off into the sunset together, apparently happy in a polyamorous relationship and while I’m generally here for that, it does not work that way, with one person just deciding for three how their relationship is going to be.

Plus, the entire film feeds into the trope that bi people just can’t be faithful and that a bisexual will never be satisfied with a partner of one gender, when they’re also into others. It’s utter crap and as a bi woman, I take particular offense at that. Not that the film deigns it worth its time to let Simone identify as bi in the first place (yes, she’s one of those characters). She insists that she’s a lesbian (“if I was bi, I’d know”) basically until she goes for polyamory all of a sudden. It’s plain erasure.

Simone (Sarah Stern) and Claire (Julia Piaton) celebrating with their friends.

The rest of the film is occupied with cultural conflicts between Simone’s traditional Jewish family, Wali’s Senegalese-Muslim background and Simone’s own secular/atheist leanings. This is handled with moderate success, I’d say. With Matt we get a character who manages to balance Jewish tradition with his own homosexuality, which is nice. But in a cringe-worthy scene Simone feeds Wali salami because she insists that he can’t be a cook if he doesn’t eat pork. This is not exactly a tolerant, respectful approach to religion, I’d say. Generally, the film relies too much on stereotypes to really make a statement for a multicultural society, as it clearly intends.

Overall, To Each, Her Own did have its moments – especially the subplot involving Simone’s co-worker Géraldine (Clémentine Poidatz) and Éric (Stéphane Deba) was cute – but it didn’t really manage to convince me.

Simone (Sarah Stern) walking hand-in-hand with Wali (Jean-Christophe Folly) and Claire (Julia Piaton).

Summarizing: meh.

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