In my memory, this was a sweet, very gentle film and, so far, it’s working out that way in this viewing. Baptiste is incredibly naive, a virgin no doubt, and totally infatuated with Garance, just as Frederick was. I say was because Frederick’s passion has subsided by the end of the first half of the film while Baptiste’s is in full flame. At this point it seems that Garance loves Baptiste, too, but might be trying to protect him from hurt. He wishes that she could love him the way that he loves her, we can only assume that this means spiritually instead of physically, and, it seems, that Garance realizes that Baptiste will be crushed if the relationship is ever consummated. Now, don’t get me wrong. Baptiste has already shown physical interest in Garance when she was changing out of her wet clothes but Garance seems to want to protect him from both her love and the disillusionment that will come later. Garance probably feels that all love ends at some point and wishes Baptiste would continue dreaming instead of discovering the truth.
Baptiste is a 19th century nerd, that much is obvious. It seems his character has been copied many times in subsequent films, the seemingly weak man who possesses emotional depth as well as surprising strength, enough to beat up the bully with one kick, anyway. Granted, his love is too deep, too quick but I think we’ve all been there before. The only part of the movie that hasn’t rung true so far is the scene in Garance’s dressing room near the end of the first half. I’ll watch that again to see if I missed something but Baptiste’s reactions seem too forced, too extreme for the situation. Perhaps it would have been better if it had been done in mime!
(More to come on this film. Be patient!)