Two young lovers change their lives drastically after the 1968 revolt, leading to choices that move them in different directions.
Actress and supermodel Laetitia Casta stars in this rather epic French outing from Oliver Ducastel and Jacques Martineau. Opening in 1968, she plays Catherine, a student who shares her life with fellow students and radicals Yves and Hervé. The trio are further revolutionized by the 1968 uprisings, and drop out of the system, taking over an old farmhouse and setting up their own hippie commune. Members come and go, love affairs are forged and broken, and babies arrive – with Yves giving birth to Ludmilla and Boris. The rest of the film covers the remainder of Catherine’s life, and that of her children, most notably Boris, who comes out as gay, and – after discovering that he is HIV positive – becomes heavily involved with the French branch of direct action group Act Up in the late 80s/early 90s.
Born in ‘68 is an ambitious film – possibly too much so. In attempting to cram four decades and multiple life stories into 180 minutes, it can’t help but reduce complicated storylines to snappy soundbites and angst-ridden, polemical dialogue. Everyone appears permanently angry – quite often and with the ethereal but self-centered Catherine, who doggedly and sanctimoniously clings to her hippy beliefs even when all around her have moved on.
The Paris riots of 1968 have been well documented, but the work of Act Up less so. It’s commendable to see the activities of the group – which reignited anger-fuelled activism amongst those on the frontline of the AIDS epidemic – committed to celluloid. However, given its scope, Born In ‘68 might have made a far more successful TV mini-series than it does a stand-alone movie.