Café au Lait (1993)
www.imdb.com/title/tt0107642/ - Internet Movie DataBase
www.netflix.com/Movie/Cafe_au_Lait/70032092?trkid=226870 - Netflix
www.amazon.com/Cafe-au-Lait-Mathieu-Kassovitz/dp/B0007WQHDU/ - Amazon
The Summary tells us that Lola is pregnant and doesn't know which of the two men she loves is the father. I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, I was let down. It was "poly", but the movie sucked.
This was a French film that started out by introducing us to Felix (or rather, Felix's foot in the pedal of his bike), a particularly obnoxious young man who seems to delight in antagonizing drivers. He arrives at a building at the same time as a young man named Jamal, who shows up in a nice car, wearing a suit, and displaying courteous manners. They both enter the building and squeeze into a closet-sized elevator and find themselves waiting in front of the same apartment door.
Lola opens the door, smiles, and invites them both in. She sits them down and tells them both that she's pregnant and she doesn't know which of them is the father, but it doesn't matter because it's her baby and she will take care of it herself, so they can just fuck off. This is the first time either man hears that Lola is involved with someone else.
Understandably, they both get pissed and leave.
But, for some unfathomable reason, both men continue to obsess over her. Jamal is the first to show up on her doorstep with flowers and ask to get back together. He moves in with her and begins taking care of her.
Felix goes on for some time insulting his friends, beating up on his sister, making racial slurs at the local gangbangers in the rap club scene where he hangs out. He is a thoroughly detestable character. He's not nice, he's sullen, he has a shitty job that he often flakes out on, he occasionally deals drugs, and he's argumentative to everyone.
Jamal, on the other hand, is the son of a Muslim diplomat, is in college, has money and manners, and seems to be basically respectful of everyone around him, although he does spit out the occasional misogynistic statement in his attempt to be the "man of the house", which Lola treats with contempt and ignores.
Lola is a woman that I can't figure out why these two men are so obsessed with. She cheats on them both, she lies, then she drops the bomb in possibly the worst way - a way practically designed to elicit a triple homicide, then tells them both that she doesn't need them. She's demanding and elusive and condescending. But she's hot. However, as a particular ex of mine used to say, beauty isn't all that uncommon. Surely the guys can find someone else who is pretty and not a lying, cheating asshole.
Jamal storms over to Felix's house, searching for Lola and this is where Felix learns that he is the natural father. As both men realize she's dumped them both - again, this starts the beginnings of their collaboration ... or at least it's the beginning of the end of their rivalry, but there is still much road left to travel.
Soon, Lola comes back, and both men are at the airport waiting for her with flowers (although still as rivals). Lola comes down the people-mover, smiles, and walks between them both with no word, leaving them both rejected, yet again.
Felix starts hitchhiking home and Jamal picks him up. In the car, they both realize they are being fools and that Lola is calling all the shots. They also discover they both met her on the same night, although Felix has to turn that into a competition too by gloating that he actually got to have sex with Lola first. Although they still see each other as rivals, they both appear to understand that Lola will not choose one over the other.
One day, Lola invites them both to meet her for dinner, unbeknownst to each guy, who gets irritated at Lola's habit of springing news on them in this manner. Lola shows up and says she will not resume her sexual relationship with either guy, but if they want to be in her life, she wants Jamal to provide financial support and Felix to provide menial labor. For some bizarre reason, both men immediately agree, although it was never clarified if this arrangement was to last forever or just the duration of the pregnancy, and what do each of them do about other sexual partners?
So now Jamal and Felix begin their collaboration in earnest. Both men perform their duties to the best of their abilities, but in a somewhat cold and detached manner, leaving Lola's apartment without saying goodbye but leaving notes, just as if they really were hired help. Apparently, this is too much for Lola. She shows up at Jamal's house (where Felix apparently has moved in) crying, saying that she can't bear the lack of emotional content anymore.
Now, all three of them live together, with Jamal providing financial stability (and still attending school), Felix providing shoddy housework, and Lola not seeming to do anything but sit around and be pregnant, reveling in the hold she has over the two men. I am unclear about whether the sex is resumed or not, but my partner at the time who watched this with me, he insists it did not resume. Occasionally, we see shots of one or the other man sleeping next to Lola and there is physical displays of affection, but it could be argued that platonic do those things too.
This is the part that makes it a "poly" movie, but I have to say they're a piss-poor example of a poly family. Unfortunately, too many poly families reinvent polyamory in just this way - one person cheats on her lover with someone else, loves them both, can't choose, the wronged parties then decide their love for the cheater is bigger than the wrong that was done to them, and they attempt to force a family out of the mess because the alternative is to dump the cheating bastard and be alone (as a former cheater, I have to say I have sympathy here, but it's still a fucked up way to go about things).
There is one scene in this whole movie that I actually liked. The 3 of them are sitting at the dinner table and Felix is looking at the Chore Chart and complaining that two big chores have been assigned on the same day and it's not fair. It's a big fight and I don't really like the conclusion, but the part I like is that they made an effort to divide up the responsibilities according to each person's abilities and the agreement is subject to negotiation. Now that is poly. In the argument, Jamal and Felix rearrange who cooks when and Felix negotiates for one night a week that Felix can go out and party.
The reason why I don't like this movie is because I don't like any of the characters and I really hate the message that having a baby is the solution to all relationships that include volatile personality clashes. The three characters really don't like each other and really don't have anything in common. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why Lola likes either man or why either of them like her. And the two men don't actually like each other, but are putting up with each other because they have no choice. But the movie ends with Lola in the delivery room and the two men on either side of her, touching the baby and smiling, when just before Lola went into labor, the men got themselves in another fight that landed them in jail again and Lola came to bail them out and proceeded to rip into both of them for being childish. As usual, the movie implies that having a baby makes a Happily Ever After.
I suppose it should be included on a list of poly movies, because it really does show us a poly family. Both men refer to Lola as their wife (hence, my ambiguity at whether the sex resumes or not), each refers to Lola as the other's wife at least once, and Felix even says at one point "my wife's other husband..." Felix brings a very-pregnant Lola and Jamal home to meet his very traditional Jewish family and he has even explained to his grandfather what the arrangement is (relying on the grandfather to explain to his grandmother). There is a scene with Lola confiding in her own grandmother her love for both men and even her gynecologist knows the score. But I disliked the movie because I didn't like the characters and I don't think they liked each other. I loathe movies that show characters who are not compatible with each other but give them a romantic "happy ending" anyway. I don't like movies that encourage people that having a baby will make your family complete and everything is magically better. Relationship Broken Add More People.
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