Men for Sale

Hommes à louer

4 stars out of five
by S. James Wegg
Publish Date: September 2, 2010
QCC234
Perhaps the most pathetic men in Montréal

While in the midst of 46 classical-music concerts in Lucerne, Switzerland, a change of pace is needed to stay in touch with other aspects of planet Earth.

Rodrigue Jean’s gritty documentary, Men for Sale, coincidentally, happened to be next up on the film-review queue.

In very many ways, it was the perfect foil between copious helpings of Chopin, Mahler and Boulez.

Over the course of a year in Canada’s second-most-populous city, 11 male prostitutes supplemented their non-taxable income by appearing before the cameras every few months and answering the filmmaker’s questions.

Those who may have hoped that the provocative title would fill the screen with documented male-to-male encounters had best look at the adults-only section of their favourite DVD emporiums. Nary a penis nor butt was in cheap titillation during the generous runtime.

But almost from the first interview, it was clear that while “men of the night” may have appeared to be the subject matter, it was their constant companion of drug addiction that was unrelentingly placed under the lens.

Here in Lucerne, the decade-old concert hall abuts the train and boat hub of transportation. While once or twice a day during the concert season the promenade is bursting with tuxedos, designer gowns and off-the-rack suits (critics are so easy to spot!), there are always a couple of dozen “street people” chatting near the adjacent piers, playing with their dogs, enjoying a beer or inhaling/injecting all-manner of mood enhancers.

Just a week ago, moments before one of the visiting orchestras was about to unleash a maelstrom of symphonic art, a young man convulsed desperately while the paramedics did their best to keep him from expiring before the overture.

Whether various body parts have been devoured, entered or whipped has little to do with the human disaster of these pathetic men who revel in the quick cash-flow that stems from servicing those who (during the daytime) look down upon, arrest, sentence or “protect” these sex-trade workers from “civilized” society.

Jean’s film is a must-see for anyone who purports to “serve and protect” their various constituents from the scourge of human existence. Failing to realize that these cash-fuelled addictions (if crack, cocaine and pills were “free” would this seemingly unstoppable cycle run out of gas?) are at the root of dangerous sex, senseless violence and ruined lives, can only inspire further “tough-on-crime” legislation when the failed homes and systemic child abuse are the main themes that guarantee this Symphony Pathétique a recurring place near any arts festival around the globe. JWR

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