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Michel Foucault (#110 of 2)

As I Lay Surrendering Édouard Louis’s History of Violence

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As I Lay Surrendering: Édouard Louis’s History of Violence
As I Lay Surrendering: Édouard Louis’s History of Violence

Much like his earlier The End of Eddy, Édouard Louis’s History of Violence is an autobiographical “novel” in which the events that form the frame of the story are true and other parts have been imaginatively reordered. The narrative is divided into two components: Louis’s first-person experience of being raped and nearly killed on Christmas Eve 2012 in Paris, and the same story as retold by Louis’s sister to his brother-in-law when the character/author returns to his small hometown after the incident. Reda, his hookup-turned-rapist, is a character who makes Louis alternately uneasy, excited, protective, and fearful.

At its best, History of Violence is about the tension between desire and danger, between passion and destruction, and about how individuals heal from trauma without allowing themselves to remain perpetual victims. Against expectations, Louis’s novel is an act of empowerment in a time when too many encourage responses that disempower. Throughout, the author wrestles between liberalized notions of how the world should be and conservative ones of how the world is. Throughout, we see him strip away the liberal tendency to empathize with criminals as victims of social failures.

AFI Fest 2012 Everybody’s Got Somebody…Not Me and Not in Tel Aviv

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AFI Fest 2012: Everybody’s Got Somebody…Not Me and Not in Tel Aviv
AFI Fest 2012: Everybody’s Got Somebody…Not Me and Not in Tel Aviv

“We never love someone. We just love the idea we have of someone.” Those words from poet Fernando Pessoa are surely ones that Alejandra (Andrea Portal) is familiar with, though she might be loath to admit their truth. Everybody’s Got Somebody…Not Me, the debut feature from Mexican writer-director Raúl Fuentes, follows Alejandra’s turbulent affair with high schooler María (Naian Daeva), whose schoolgirl-in-sunglasses vibe hints at the shades of Lolita undergirding the story. For her part, Alejandra is in that vein of Nabokovian intellectual, a highly cultured literary editor and an aesthete who contemplates María as one would a roughly hewn art object: full of life and energy, but waiting to be refined. Their relationship is defined by its contrasts: Alejandra busts out her portable CD player in a Wendy’s to listen to the Cure and still uses a paper address book when she has a perfectly workable cellphone. María is, of course, a teenager.