Uneasy Riders

Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Nadia Kaci, Olivier Gourmet, Nadine Marcovici

Director: Jean-Pierre Sinapi

The Cote d’Azur, France. Rene (Olivier Gourmet) is a Marxist, a gifted chess player and an intellectual. He’s also a diabetic confined to a wheelchair and life in a “home” an institution for the phsically disabled. Rene has two hobbies – one, reducing the nurses to tears and two, militant porn. But note this is France, and in France many care homes are run with the support of the Catholic Church. What is about to unfold is likely to upset the church, the careworkers and the community at large.

Sex is rarely off our cinema screens – but the sexual politics of disability is probably not a theme which sits easily with large audiences. Jean-Pierre Sinapi has created an intimate, extremely funny and very human film about the hypocrisy which surrounds the way people with disabilities are viewed. “Able” people want to de-sexualise the “disabled” – as if they are children without adult needs. UNEASY RIDERS makes us confront our beliefs.

Rene, as one of the care-workers remarks “may be in a wheelchair, but he’s still a bastard”. He’s argumentative, unkind and his penchant for porn repulses the women in his presence. Julie (Nadia Kaci) has recently started work as a nurse in the home. She’s patient and practical, and is determined not to be beaten by Rene and his impossible behaviour. As trust builds between them, Rene tells Julie that the only wish he has before he dies is to find sexual fulfilment before its too late. Julie knows that some of the staff already turn a blind eye to sexual relationships between the people in their care as long the issues aren’t discussed in public.

Julie decides to put her neck on the line, and stand up to the hypocrisy. She seeks out Florele (Nadine Marcovici) a sex worker willing to fulfil Rene’s needs on the busy autoroute 7. Florele is the woman of Rene’s dreams – suitably curvaceous with a caravan door big enough to bring in a wheelchair.

After a spot of sexual healing Rene is transformed but word gets out in the care home and Julie is in trouble. The staff fear that the floodgates will open. The home is already in the midst of a drama because Rabah (Said Taghmaoui), a young Moslem man in a wheelchair has announced he wants to convert to Catholicism following a visit to Lourdes. The situation gets even more out of control when Rabah announces he’d like Florele, a fellow Johnny Halliday fan to be his godmother.

Watch the drama unfold in the French farcical tradition. UNEASY RIDERS is a great film and we know that Johnny Halliday will unite them all in the end!

5 out of 6 stars

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