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THE MELANCHOLY ACTOR

Sweet, tender and sad, Andrew Haigh’s “Without Ever Knowing Each Other” is a film where grief and love intertwine, through the meeting of two lonely beings, formidably played by Andrew Scott and that most melancholy of contemporary actors, Paul Mescal.

It’s a moving story of love, loneliness and grief, carried by the formidable but too-rare Andrew Scott (best known for his delightful role as the villain Moriarty in the Sherlock series or the sexy priest in Fleabag). Gay and single, Adam is working on a film script about his parents, who died in a car accident when he was twelve. He lives in an apartment in a brand-new block of flats in a quiet part of London. Freshly delivered, the building is still empty. Well, almost empty. Another condo is occupied by another melancholy loner, a little younger than him. Harry. He’s handsome, mysterious, maybe a little dangerous. Whether a cathartic fantasy or true love, an affair is born between the two men, while Adam continues to see his parents in his dreams.

We don’t know much about Harry, except that he hides a deep, subterranean sadness beneath his generous smile and deep gaze. He’s a young gay man from a different generation than Adam, the one that didn’t experience AIDS, from a more progressive era too, perhaps. He’s a different kind of man, more extroverted, more pro-active. But Harry and Adam share the same pain, the same ultra-modern loneliness. This dark lover, as captivating as he is diaphanous, is played by Paul Mescal. Since his memorable role in the 2019 series Normal People, the Irish actor with the physique of a rugby player (he was briefly a professional Gaelic footballer) has become a regular in the cast of melancholy characters. Of course, it’s as a young single father in Charlotte Wells’ beautiful, sad “Aftersun” (2023), which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, that he makes his mark, for his subtle, tender performance. Before that, moviegoers had caught a glimpse of him in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s first film, “The Lost Daughter”, another melancholy adaptation of a novel by Elena Ferante, in which he was confronted with the loneliness of Olivia Colman on vacation on a Greek island.

Sadness, regret, the blues, Paul Mescal seems to be a regular. We saw him again recently as a midwestern farmer attached to the things of the past and condemned to be replaced by a machine in Garth Davis’s “The Replacement”. Soon – well, not just yet – we’ll also see him in the work of one of America’s most melancholy filmmakers, Richard Linklater. The director of “Before Sunrise” is repeating the Boyhood experience, following his characters as they age, this time over twenty years. “Merrily We Roll Along” is due for release in 2040, when the actor turns forty-four (he is now twenty-six). But by then, will the man who is also soon to become Ridley Scott’s new Gladiator still have that beautiful, sad glint of melancholy in his eyes?

“WITHOUT EVER KNOWING US”
BY ANDREW HAIGH
IN CINEMAS ON FEBRUARY 14, 2024

youtube.com/watch?v=dts7AzMuqFg

Et revoir Aftersun de Charlotte Wells

Ici : canalplus.com/cinema/aftersun/h/21531317_40099

youtube.com/watch?v=P90iTMBTw2A

Pierre Charpilloz

France – Paris