Tackling themes of sexuality, disability and workplace responsibilities all in a tight 10-minute run-time, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and André Turpin’s Prends-Moi (Take Me) is a thought-provoking short set in a centre for the disabled. Orbiting around nurse Mani as he comes to terms with some of the more unusual tasks he’s asked to conduct, this is a film that presents a side of disability we rarely see, whilst also asking us to consider those who help look after them.
The film centres around Mani as he helps two of the centre’s boarders experience a moment of closeness in the intimacy room. Spending time with both the nurse and the young couple, Prends-Moi provides an interesting balance of perspectives on the experience.
On the one hand we get to share in the tender exchanges of this disabled couple as they gaze lovingly at each other and giggle together in the warmth of that after-sex glow. On the other hand we get to experience the discomfort of Mani, as he’s asked to take a very hands-on approach to helping these young lovers have sex. As he puts it in a frank discussion with his superior – “Have you ever held a stranger’s penis to, uh…put it inside his wife?”
Prends-Moi’s most touching and affecting scene doesn’t come from an interaction between the young couple though, but instead it’s a moment between the nurse and the young man that really lands an emotive blow. As Mani cleans-up after the event, he’s thanked for his assistance with a simple “merci” and the two men share eye-contact for longer than is expected. It’s in this second the nurse really understands what he has just done isn’t anything to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about it and as a viewer we share the feeling – it’s a beautiful moment!
This uplifting, affirming feeling is reinforced with the short’s final scene. As the nurse and a fellow worker transport the young couple back to their rooms, post coital grins etched across their faces, Mani’s colleague enquires if “everything went well?”, “oui” he confirms with a thoughtful nod and again as a viewer we’re reassured that this was a special moment for all involved.
As the film conclude and Turpin’s camera (he was DoP, as well as co-director) glides past the rooms of fellow inhabitants of the centre, I’m left reflecting on the true power of storytelling and in particular the stories that are told through short film. Prends-Moi feels like a film made possible by the freedom (or lack of restrictions) allowed by the short film format and it’s a story that you feel might not have been told if it wasn’t for that.
Great stories have the power to move us, inspire us and make us see the world from a brand new perspective, Prends-Moi does all three. It’s a short I could have easily ended up discussing for how it makes its audience feel uncomfortable or shocked, but it really doesn’t. Instead it paints an intimate portrait of three complex individuals and how their lives are intertwined through one beautiful, tender moment.
Prends-Moi is a film I’m proud to share on Short of the Week, it’s a film I’m grateful exists and it’s a film I’m even more thankful I got to experience.